Sex Tape

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel make a sex tape. Generic formula ensues.

Sex Tape

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Directed by Jake Kasdan. Starring Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Jack Black, Rob Corddry, Rob Lowe, Ellie Kemper, Jolene Blalock, Melissa Paulo. Written by Jason Segel, Nicholas Stoller, Kate Angelo.

Halfway through Sex Tape, Jason Segel’s character is being chased by vicious German Shepherd while attempting to locate recover the titular video that features compromising footage of himself and his wife. He bashes the dog on the side of the head with a hardcover book, darts to an adjacent room, and turns on the treadmill. After lunging for him, the dog steps on said treadmill and is thrown against a wall with a violent “thud”, landing unconscious on the floor.  

But this is a comedy, as you’ll gather from the following exchange, when Segel asks the dog “are you OK?” and whips out his cell phone.

“Siri, how do you perform CPR on a dog?” 

Ding!

Siri: “I’ve found four places named Starbucks.”

That’s the one good joke in Sex Tape (and yes, I’ve ruined the joke, but I’ve also saved you the experience of sitting through the rest of the film). It’s unfortunate that it comes at the expense of two rather vicious bits of animal cruelty – our hero is intentionally trying to cause injury to the dog, and this ain’t Cujo, it’s an insipid Cameron Diaz comedy – but it’s got a setup and a punchline, those old standbys that seem to have deserted modern comedies, and got a giggle from me.

It’s also the only sequence in the entire movie where the couple – Segel’s Jay and Diaz’s Annie – actually attempt to covertly retrieve the video. They’ve recorded it to spice up their marriage, but Jay accidently synched it up to the cloud, and it’s now available on a number of iPads the couple has been giving away. 

Yeah, that’s right: the digital age premise makes sense, but instead of Jay simply sharing his media library with others online, the film has him giving away the hardware, too: this middle-class family gives away brand new iPads to family, friends, and… the mailman? Annie, a family blogger, gifts one containing a presentation to potential boss/partner Hank (Rob Lowe). You would have thought a flash drive would suffice. 

Annie tosses an iPad out the window at one point (it doesn’t break – amazing resilience!) and later Hank gives one away to a couple of friends posing as charity workers collecting used iPads. In what world are these $700 machines dispensed like this? But I digress. iPad, iPad, iPad. Clearly, the filmmakers had to find a way to work the Apple product placement into every other shot of their movie. 

So Jay and Annie set out to retrieve the iPads, and the film’s centerpiece consists of a 15-minute segment at Hank’s fabulous suburban mansion, where Jay runs into the aforementioned German Shepherd in a violent slapstick confrontation, Annie does cocaine with Hank to distract him, and there’s all these paintings on the wall of Hank superimposed on top of Disney characters. 

It isn’t very funny, but for these 15 minutes the filmmakers seem to actually be trying this comedy thing. The rest of the movie is pure formula, and by the time this thing gets to blackmail, destruction of porn site servers, and an utterly generic conclusion where The Big Speech saves the day and prevents the sex tape from leaking, I had had enough. 

Jack Black shows up as a YouPorn kingpin, and a minutes-long gag where he rattles off the names of the ridiculous porn sites (within earshot of our leads’ young children, mind you) is at least mildly amusing. Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper play the ‘wacky’ friends who desperately try to inject some comedy into the stale proceedings. 

But for a movie called Sex Tape, this film is shockingly tepid and tame. Neither the humor nor the sex (what little there is of either) is very risqué, and while Diaz – still incredibly sexy at 40-plus – bares more here than she ever has before, it’s still not enough to justify the rest of the movie.


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