Directed by: Jake Kasdan
Premise: A couple (Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel) attempts to spice up their marriage by filming themselves having sex. After the video gets uploaded to the cloud, making it accessible to their friends and family, the couple set out to destroy all copies of the video.
What Works: Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are a likeable and convincing screen couple and they are one of the few things Sex Tape has going in its favor. The first portion of the movie tracks the origins of their relationship from their college days to married life as parents. Although the setup is similar to other suburbia-based comedies like Date Night and Neighbors, the exhausted domesticity of Sex Tape has a recognizable reality to it. The desire of this couple to maintain the passion in their relationship amid the busyness of everyday life is a credible motivation and the actors are likable enough to make the viewer want to see them succeed. As its title implies, Sex Tape is a raunchy comedy and the cruder the movie gets, the better. The funniest part of Sex Tape is the very end in which Diaz and Segel’s characters actually watch their film. Rather than being erotic, the footage is awkward and clumsy, and that makes for some great physical comedy. In fact, had the movie lived up to its title and been a fictional ninety-minute sex tape that lampooned the subgenre and found laughs in the un-glamorousness of the human body, the result could have been comic gold or, at the very least, a unique movie.
What Doesn’t: After recording themselves, the couple’s video file is inadvertently shared on a cloud service, which makes it accessible to all of their family and friends. From this point on the movie heads downhill and even the final reveal of the video is unable to make up for the flat and uninspired hijinks that come in between. Part of the problem with this movie is its very conceit, which suffers from obvious logical and technical problems. Jason Segel’s character works for a radio station and he constantly gets new i-pads for work and he gifts the old i-pads to his friends and family, from which they can access his impressive collection of music stored in the cloud. That’s the first problem with this movie. As most people familiar with this technology are aware, only a handful of devices can be synched to a cloud account, so the idea that dozens of people have access is a bit silly. Much more incredulous is the idea that Segel’s character, who clearly knows his way around a computer network, does not know how to remove a file from the cloud (or at least spend five minutes searching the internet for instructions on how to do so). Incidentally, this comes up later in the movie but instead of playing as an effective comic reveal it just comes across as an obvious moment in which the characters finally catch up with the audience. The technical problems are capped by the fact that Sex Tape is a very strange act of product placement. In the same way that The Internship advertised for Google by portraying it as an obnoxious workplace and Jaws 3-D advertised SeaWorld as a theme park where you could get eaten by a shark, Sex Tape advertises Macintosh products as devices that will humiliate your family. As a result the product placement fails while being somewhat distracting. Aside from those technical problems, the biggest flaw of Sex Tape is that it isn’t very funny. None of the gags of the movie are very interesting (most of the best stuff was in the trailer) and the filmmakers don’t do the premise very well. What should be a crazy scavenger hunt to track down all of the i-pads abruptly stops after the third device is retrieved. There’s no momentum to the story and the film is flat. After the matter of the video file has been resolved, the filmmakers go for a sentimental ending in which the couple supposedly learn something about their relationship but the emotional lesson comes across disingenuous and unearned.
Bottom Line: Sex Tape attempts to mix raunchy comedy with a relationship-centered story but the filmmakers aren’t successful with either element. The movie isn’t raunchy enough and its concept is poorly executed.
Episode: #501 (July 27, 2014)