The new comedy Sex Tape from director Jake Kasdan runs a little over ninety minutes yet it feels its running forever. You know you’re in trouble when you spend most of the film thinking of better outcomes to any of the given situations and funnier punch lines to the gags; though to be honest, the script doesn’t call for many actual gags, just situations that never quite conclude.
Cameron Diaz plays Annie who writes an on-line blog about her thoughts and feelings on being a wife and a mother. “Do you remember the first time your husband saw you naked?” she blogs on her laptop. Using Annie’s writing as the narration to a lengthy pre-credit introduction we see how Annie and her boyfriend, Jay (Jason Segel) met and spent most of their time while dating – having wild, crazy, cartoon-styled sex not only in the bedroom but in as many public places available while proclaiming repeatedly how much they effing love each other. Romeo and Juliet they’re not. Considering that Annie’s supposed to be something of an intelligent writer and wordsmith it’s amazing how most of her regular dialog consists of nothing more than continually dropping f-bombs.
Next comes marriage. “We promised ourselves nothing would change,” Annie writes in her column, though it does in the way that everyday life and grown-up responsibilities get in the way of the daily habits of a couple who themselves haven’t quite grown up. First comes a child, then a second, then the inability for Annie and Jay to continue their rabbit-like wild and crazy pre-marriage habits. Horror upon horror, they lose their sex-drive. “How do you get it back?” she blogs.
When the new i-Pad arrives Segel’s Jay is impressed with its improved ability to record videos and the sharpness of the playback, so what do they do? They make a porn movie, naturally; a hardcore video that lasts almost as long as Gone with the Wind, though the book upon which they base their three hour homemade blockbuster is The Joy of Sex. They spend more than three hours recreating every position illustrated in the famous seventies do-it-yourself manual and then film it from every angle.
But next, the worst thing they can imagine occurs. The video is accidentally downloaded to the cloud network where it can be seen by everyone who’s ever received an i-Pad as a gift from Jay. Horrified, the couple spends the rest of the night racing around trying to retrieve all of those handy-dandy flat screens from their friends, including Annie’s potential new boss (Rob Lowe), before the epic length video is viewed.
The problem for Annie and Jay and their sex tape – even though there’s no actual tape involved – may be a big one for them but the problem for us is even bigger; we have to watch Annie and Jay race around, shouting at each other like demented idiots on speed for the rest of the film. Jason Segel has such a likable, good-natured manner about him it’s a shame it’s squandered on strained, raunchy material like this. It worked in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but it lands with a dull thud in Sex Tape. Though considering the script was co-written by him, he only has himself plus co-writers Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller to blame.
Cameron Diaz, on the other hand, is the hired performer, and Sex Tape is just another resume filler on an ever lengthening line of mediocre comedies. Considering she made such a big impact in The Mask then followed it with edgy, interesting independents such as The Last Supper and Being John Malkovich, not to mention the nice girl roles in My Best Friend’s Wedding and There’s Something About Mary, being this continually shrill and annoying is doing nothing for her career. When sitting at the dinner table in the home of her parents she looks radiant and you’re reminded for just a moment of the good work she’s previously delivered, then saddened as you realize that Sex Tape is not going to be among them.
As a couple we’re supposed to warm to Annie and Jay, laugh at their dilemmas and relate to their plight – after all, what they did was in the privacy of their home and not meant for public consumption – but in reality they’re simply a reasonably well-to-do, immature couple. Yes, it’s just a comedy, and no, you’re not meant to analyze everything quite so thoroughly, but, come on; even though Annie and Jay are presumably meant to be in their late thirties this is really a couple too young in their manner and attitudes to be married let alone inherit the responsibility of raising a family.
If the film had gone in a different and edgier direction and allowed all of their friends, plus the mailman and Annie’s boss, to actually see their homemade porn, then maybe Sex Tape might have been about something. Instead, what we’re really faced with is an epic-length commercial for the remarkable i-Pad disguised as a big screen sit-com.
MPAA Rating: R Length: 95 Minutes Overall Rating: 3 (out of 10)