Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 34 minutes
MPAA Rating: R for Strong Sexual Content, Nudity, Language and some Drug Use
Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Written by: Kate Angelo, Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Starring: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Jack Black
In Summer 2011, director Jake Kasdan delivered BAD TEACHER. That R-rated comedy was a decent flick and struck a nice balance between crude and sweet. Two years have passed and Kasdan has returned with SEX TAPE. The title alone gives the impression that this will be a more relentlessly raunchy effort this time around. I was actually pretty excited to see this film given the promising premise and a solid trailer. Unfortunately, I can count the number of funny moments on one hand. This is especially disappointing given that Kasdan has done hilarious work in the past (WALK HARD), as have stars Cameron Diaz (THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY) and Jason Segel (FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL). SEX TAPE is bad for a whole lot of the reasons, but most of them all lead back to a lazy script.
Jay and Annie are a married couple who were once passionate lovers and now have fallen into the monotonous trap of a sex-free marriage. Trying to rekindle a spark in their life in-between the sheets, Annie suggests that they record themselves having sex in every position imaginable. The couple have a steamy, awesome night. Their video winds up being an epic length of three hours long and Jay is tasked with deleting the footage. However, Jay makes the horrifying discovery that their sex tape has been synched to the cloud and is now available on all the iPads they handed out as gifts to their friends and family. In a race against time and the possibility of their sex going viral, Annie and Jay try to recover all the iPads and delete the footage. This is easier said than done.
Despite having a believable relationship together in BAD TEACHER, there’s a whole lot of forced chemistry between Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel this time around. One of the biggest problems with SEX TAPE is that the movie is a jumbled mess with different tones that change from scene to scene. Sometimes, it’s tries to go profane, but it mostly takes an oddly out-of-place romantic-comedy angle. In a movie called SEX TAPE that revolves around an outlandishly crude premise, a rom-com view feels like an odd way to approach this material. It’s not even as if anybody’s trying either. Jason Segel is running around doing slapstick. Cameron Diaz says a couple of swear words. Finally, even some of the score from BAD TEACHER was recycled here and stuck out like a sore thumb.
The movie is completely predictable in a whole lot of areas. Some obvious foreshadowing at the beginning gives the viewer an idea of how a scene will play out in the final 10 minutes of the film. The R-rating goes nearly wasted here. There are swear words and some quick comedic sex scenes, but nothing to write home about. The script is also crammed with repetitive jokes. One scene involving a group of people listing off dirty websites might have earned a chuckle, if it had been summed up in a single sentence. Instead, the one joke keeps running for about three full minutes. I was actually getting aggravated and wanted to yell at the screen “Get on with it, already!” Though we never see the actual sex tape (which might have easily earned an NC-17 for pornographic content), there are pieces shown at the tail-end of the film. Instead of serving as a payoff to any of the dusty jokes and frantic situation that we watched play out over this three-hour-long video, these bits only serve to pad out the already desperate running time. At least, SEX TAPE passed by quick!
I can say a couple of nice things about SEX TAPE though. There is one really funny sequence (briefly glimpsed in the trailers) that involves Cameron Diaz’s character trying to retrieve an iPad from her new boss (Rob Lowe). It lasts about 10 minutes and I was laughing quite a bit. The scene escalates in so many ways and a running gag involving Disney paintings through the house was cracking me up. If the rest of the film had been as funny as that 10 minute stretch, then this would have been a worthwhile comedy. Rob Corddry isn’t up to his usual hilarious standards, but manages to outshine every person on-screen. Some of his moments also got a few chuckles out of me.
SEX TAPE is bland, boring, and lazy. The screenplay (written by three people including Jason Segel) doesn’t take advantage of a raunchy premise. A few half-hearted moments aim for sweetness rather than outrageous laughs. It’s a tonal mess and feels like nobody is putting any effort into this film. I laughed for Rob Lowe’s memorable scene and a few moments featuring Rob Corddry in a supporting role, but those are the only times I even cracked a smile. It’s a disappointing lackluster comedy all around. The trailer was like foreplay and the actual movie left me with a case of comedic blue-balls.