Director: Jake Kasdan
Writers: Kate Angelo, Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller
Stars: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper
Release date: July 18th, 2014
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Running time: 94 minutes
Best part: Diaz and Segel’s chemistry.
Worst part: The awkward gross-out gags.
Nowadays, romantic comedies follow the most tried-and-true formula in the history of…pretty much, everything ever. From day one, rom-com productions follow a pattern as predictable as death and taxes. Fortunately, these two things are excluded from most laugh-riots. However, unsurprisingly, Sex Tape‘s poster beats the trailer to the punch. By looking at these wall-strung ads, you can predict how this unfunny and tedious farce will play out.
So, with all that said, does Sex Tape live up to my ‘expectations’? Short answer: absolutely! Spoiling the plot and funny moments within its heinous marketing campaign, this production shot itself in the foot before the controversy-stricken premieres commenced. With Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel lashing out against adoring fans, it seems even the movie’s A-list leads are hell-bent on eradicating this uninspired rom-com from Hollywood’s consciousness. Pathetically so, the movie itself does the job for them. The story, such as it is, latches onto one so-normal-it’s-boring marriage. Meeting in college, Annie (Diaz) and Jay (Segel) spend their study hours gyrating on top of one another. Enjoying passionate sex for hours on end, these youngsters revel in each other’s company. However, with marriage and kids on the horizon, their sex life comes to a slow and painful halt. The movie jumps forward several years, and our once-freakish characters refuse to even glance at one another’s naked bodies. Controlled by momentous responsibilities, Annie and Jay begin to question their marriage’s future. Bafflingly so, this plot is copied and pasted from several well-known comedies. In fact, Sex Tape can’t even inspire fever dreams about similar efforts.
Sticking by its tepid premise, Sex Tape jumps into bed with vigour and gusto. Struggling for ideas, Annie and Jay make a sex tape filled with positions from best-seller The Joy of Sex. Wackily so, after the video syncs up with their friends’ new iPads (adding to the movie’s partnership with Apple and YouPorn), Annie and Jay decide to track them down and destroy them before the video hits the web. Like The Five Year Engagement and Get Him to the Greek, Sex Tape dares to look into a Magic 8-Ball. Despite the A-list cast and kooky gags, these comedies attempt to examine love’s trials and tribulations. With marriage driving the First World, these movies garner exhaustive profits and adorable reviews. However, from any angle, these movies glisten like Cubic Zirconias – pretty yet phoney. Disarmingly, movies like Sex Tape make condescending comments about us ‘lesser’ folk. This gross-out flick is, by the length of Judd Apatow’s run-times, the most transparent and uninteresting one to date. Sporting a by-the-numbers screenplay, the narrative takes every tried-and-tested turns imaginable. Wallowing in its own filth, Sex Tape‘s disgraceful sense of humour, leaps in logic, and conventional narrative don’t stand up to criticism. Questions form around the movie’s sporadic choices, transitioning from dull rom-com to wacky sitcom. Good for only one How I Met Your Mother episode, the outlandish premise doesn’t match the 94-minute run-time. In fact, the movie wears out its welcome before even the 1-hour mark.
“Nobody Understands the Cloud. It’s A f*cking mystery!” (Jay (Jason Segel), Sex Tape).
Despite the production’s unadulterated swagger, Sex Tape climaxes way too early. Filling the first third with ‘sexy’ shenanigans, director/co-writer Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher, Orange County) delivers yet another predictable and shallow improv-fest. Lacking a strong screenplay, this comedy never escapes 22 Jump Street and Bad Neighbours‘ shadows. Like Kasdan’s previous efforts, Sex Tape is raunch for raunch’s sake. Lacking flair or charm, this is a sleazy and dull rom-com lacking the courage to justify itself. In fact, this comes off like a horny simpleton late to the orgy. Wearing the gross-out genre out, Kasdan’s style reeks of desperation and mimicry. Borrowing from Apatow’s grounded perspective, Sex Tape‘s message awkwardly grinds against the unrealistic hijinks. Much of this stems from the cast’s inexplicable lust for expletives and crude one-liners. Throwing in meaningless sub-plots, Sex Tape‘s trajectory is thrown off course whenever its characters open their mouths. Our performers, known for their spritely comedic chops, extend certain scenes just so…the story can happen. One set piece, in which Diaz and Rob Lowe snort coke and leer at bizarre artworks, is more repulsive and bland than the tape itself. Borrowing from previous roles, Diaz and Segel hamper this already grating romp. In peak physical condition, Diaz tries and fails to re-ignite her career here. Meanwhile, sporting a strange physique, a little of Segel’s ‘comedy’ goes a long way. Thankfully, Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper are exceedingly likeable in small roles.
As the cinematic equivalent of a mid-afternoon dry hump , Sex Tape goes limp before it can even say: ” I’m sorry, that’s never happened to me before!”. Sadly, sticking to the big-budget comedy code, this genre shows no signs of slowing down. Pleasuring only itself and its multi-millionaire leads, the movie’s improv-lead humour and plot-hole-driven narrative signify the importance of quality over quantity (learn it well, kids). I applaud Diaz and Segel’s chemistry, but mixing business with pleasure like this has delivered a…flop.
Verdict: Raunch without joy or thrills.