High concept comedies are a tricky thing to pull off. You have to make sure that you execute the concept while also making a movie that delivers laughs and moves from point A to point B and so on. They don’t always work, quite frankly, and Sex Tape can’t quite reverse the trend. The film has its funny moments, especially during the first 20 minutes or so, but once the plot gets into gear, things fall apart. Stars Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz do their best to keep the humor coming, but Segel’s also the co-writer here and his writing isn’t up to his usual standards. Director Jake Kasdan seems content to just put raunchy stuff on the screen and move on, turning in lazier work than you’d expect from the filmmaker. This flick is on safe ground when Diaz and Segel just get to riff or interact with each other, something that doesn’t happen nearly enough. The second act has a prolonged sequence in a large that grinds the movie to a halt (and is very similar to a scene from The Five Year Engagment), and aside from one amusing cameo towards the end, but best that the flick has to off comes during the first half hour. Sex Tape isn’t a bad film, but it’s only an average one and not particularly something that I feel the need to recommend. Everyone involved has done better work in the past than this, plain and simple.
Things start off with a clever opening sequence introducing us to Jay (Segel) and Annie (Diaz). Annie writes a blog about being a mother and her latest post talks about the amazing sex life that the couple had when they first met in college. They were animals, basically, and loved every minute of it. Then, she got pregnant, they got married, and things slowed down. They basically stopped having sex. Another kid came along (no idea how though, considering she’s literally talking about how they know longer have sex at the same time), and suffice to say, the spark is gone. They both want it back though, so Annie sends the kids to grandma’s house for the night and they go at it. They’re out of practice though, which leads to frustration until Annie suggests that they use Jay’s new iPad to make a porn movie. They record an epic three hour one and all is well, provided of course that the tape is deleted. Jay forgets, it ends up in the cloud, and everyone who has one of Jay’s old iPads (he gives them away as gifts) potentially has seen their tape. Thus begins a wild night of trying to track copies down, including time spent with their close friends Robby (Rob Corddry) and Tess (Ellie Kemper), a trip to the home of someone potentially looking to buy Annie’s blog (played by Rob Lowe), and other such shenanigans. The manhunt itself is pretty boring, frankly. They should have stayed in bed…that’s where the laughs were.
I have to concede that Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz have a lot of chemistry together. They obviously developed some working together on Bad Teacher, though here they got lots more time to play. Segel is playing the same sort of character he often plays, while Diaz gets to be a little dirtier than average (though not quite on the level of Bad Teacher). They’re not amazingly fleshed out characters, but they have more to offer than the rest of the people who populate this movie. Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper are wasted, Rob Lowe basically cameos and gets to chew the scenery in a sometimes fun way (he’s having a good time, you have to give him that), and everyone else who pops in barely fares that well. There’s one cameo I won’t spoil that’s very funny, but the rest of the cast includes a barely there Nat Faxon, Harrison Holzer, Nancy Lenehan, and others, though Diaz and Segel are the ones you want to actually watch, at least for the most part.
Jake Kasdan seems to be going through the motions here. He doesn’t get creative at all with the sex scenes, preferring instead to just let his actors be fools. He’s a long way from the genius of The TV Set. His direction is mediocre, but I’m more disappointed in the script. Segel co-writes with frequent partner Nicholas Stoller here, along with Kate Angelo, and the result is a mess. It’s as if they came up with the high concept of losing a homemade sex tape to the cloud, but didn’t know what to do next, so they send their cast out to bumble around. Had they focused on the aftermath of their friends and family seeing the tape, some uncomfortable comedy could have arisen, but they take the easy way out, reducing the laugh quotient in the process. This is a far cry for Segel and Stoller from Forgetting Sarah Marshall or even The Five Year Engagement. A far cry indeed.
Basically, Sex Tape is a sometimes adequate raunchy comedy that’s a big step down from some of the better comedies of 2014 so far. It’s hardly unwatchable and it goes down easy enough, but you really come away with the sense that the final product should have been a lot better. This could have been hilarious, but it settles for being merely amusing at times. Sex Tape is a definite disappointment, both in the sack and out of it…
-Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!