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.
Jason Segel & Cameron Diaz.
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.
Rob Lowe brings the funny…occasionally.
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).
Rob Corddry & Ellie Kemper’s big-screen hijinks.
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.
Stars: Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Albert Brooks, Megan Fox
Release date: December 21st, 2012
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Running time: 133 minutes
Best part: The chemistry between Rudd and Mann.
Worst part: Its 134 min. length.
What is a defining part of life that is scary and unavoidable? Age. Age and wisdom define who we are as people. This pressing issue affects everyone in Judd Apatow’s new dramedy This is 40. The film is a coming-of-age tale in more ways than one. It’s also a funny, insightful yet slow jog toward one couple’s goals. One can’t help but notice, however, that Apatow’s comedy styling would be best suited to another format.
Paul Rudd & Leslie Mann.
This story follows married couple Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) as their lives begin to crumble. With Debbie having turned forty and Pete following suit, they contemplate where their lives have ended up. But bodily restrictions and regrets are far from their only problems. Pete’s record company is failing to gain the attention it needs to stay afloat. While Debbie is convinced one of her employees is stealing money from her clothing store. Also coming to a head are problems with their kids Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow), as both adjust to their bickering parents and their own inconsistencies. It’s up to Pete and Debbie to band together, before their afflicting issues cripple their marriage.
Rudd, Chris O’Dowd & Lena Dunham.
Apatow clearly loves his own life. Putting too much of himself into each film, all four of his theatrical creations can be seen as pieces of a much greater puzzle. His breakout smash hit The 40-Year old Virgin discuses the ‘first time’ and the importance of adolescence. Knocked Up, the pseudo-precursor to This is 40, chronicles the nervousness that comes with having a child. Funny People is based on the acceptance of death. While This is 40 is about hitting the wall. The norms of society are examined with close scrutiny. Instead of depicting unrealistically happy people conflicted by implausible issues, Apatow’s illustration of marriage and parenthood is smart and appropriately realistic for a Hollywood Romantic-comedy. Pete and Debbie are basically an ideal 1990’s couple forced to deal with the issues of a new century. Feeling out of place and unable to help, their constant arguing grounds this couple in a realistic fashion. They angrily discuss everyday issues such as kids, bullying, friends, parents and, most importantly, money. Apatow’s involvement, to a certain extent, brings out the uncomfortable and jarring elements of this on-screen relationship. With Rudd essentially playing Apatow’s avatar, the involvement of Mann (Apatow’s real-life wife) and their kids unnecessarily hits too close to home. Writer/directors that Apatow has obviously taken notes from could’ve avoided subjectivity to convey a clearer message and funnier film-going experience. James L. Brooks and Nancy Meyers would’ve improved the material at hand and injected a greater amount of wit into proceedings (watch Brooks’ Spanglish for a strong example).
“We had sex the other night. You should give me some credit for that.” (Pete (Paul Rudd), This is 40).
Apatow’s effect on Hollywood comedy in the past few years has been exponential. He has resurrected careers and reinvigorated gross-out humour. Here, he has proven just how important he still is. With a Robert Altman-esque love of cameos and a refreshing grasp on reality, he has created an ideal night out for family and friends. He has, however, repeated his biggest mistake in stretching an identifiable story out to an excessive run-time. His involvement in TV, including hit shows such as Freaks and Geeks and Girls, has affected his grasp on concise cinematic storytelling. While avoiding Funny People‘s monotonous pace and unessential revelations, he is still unable to focus on the most important parts of his own material. Subplots are picked up and dropped without a hint of warning or development. Important issues are also unresolved, disrupting this story’s all too vital messages about family values and the joys of life. The comedic tone changes abruptly throughout. Flipping instantaneously from heartening moments to situational comedic hijinks, Apatow’s choices seem to be muddled here. Having said that, many characters are carried by fun performances. Rudd and Mann depict the same loving yet sour relationship they achieved as the same couple from Knocked up. They are two of the most likeable actors in Hollywood, and, despite their coarse attitudes here, its still easy to see why.
This is 40 can be summed up in one scene. Debbie’s gynaecological exam leads to everyone in the room trying to determine her real age. This hilarious yet frustrating game details both the sour aspects of ageing and Apatow’s love of awkward observational comedy. Its a comedy with as much wisdom, bite and tedium as life itself.
Verdict: An enlightening yet tedious look at growing up.