I imagine a certain type of person reacting to the news that Cameron Diaz would star in a film called Sex Tape as though it’s the best thing to happen ever. Although it wasn’t this person that Vue cinemas felt they needed to advertise it to. I first saw the full trailer for Sex Tape before my viewing of Guardians of the Galaxy. It was the middle of the Summer holidays at about lunchtime so there were kids aplenty. It seemed a bit fucking weird to me. Do fathers, out with their kids, really want to be titillated by the thought of a naked Cameron Diaz? Do parents really want their children being forced to imagine Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel filming themselves getting down and dirty? Clearly marketing strategies still centre around fucking ridiculous stereotypes of desperate and sexually frustrated comic book nerds.
I never wanted to see Sex Tape: it looked like every other tired sex comedy out there: lacking in originality, subtlety, and, most worryingly, humour. It’s like an American Pie but with randy parents instead of students: genius.Although, there is a lot to be said for a boring Sunday and I’m always willing to take a personal hit if it gives me something to rip into.
Clearly taking the best part of an hour to finalise, the narrative follows married couple Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) who are horrified to discover that jobs, children and other everyday issues have meant they have a lot less sex. Honestly, how this could be new information is beyond me. It’s is a concept that has given us countless films and TV episodes which should have given them fair warning.
However, the pair decide that the time has come to make a change and, after packing the kids off to Grandma, the couple prepare for a magical night alone. Finding it difficult to regain their rhythm the pair obviously decide the best decision is to film them on Jay’s new iPad. Unfortunately, the video is sent to the mythical “Cloud” and Jay, who philanthropically palms his cast-off technology to friends and family, must prevent his nearest and dearest seeing the pair acting out ‘The Joy of Sex’.
Now as film premises go this is already fucking stupid and strained. The pair make such a big deal about the video being released whilst conveniently forgetting that they can easily remove the video remotely. Instead they set off on a ridiculous adventure to break into people’s houses and steal their gadgets. Including a brief stop at Annie’s new boss’ (Rob Lowe) house where she discovers his family friendly image is actually a front for a cocaine binging, Slayer fan.
We have another of those all too familiar occasions where Lowe, in a shitty supporting role, comes out on top. He is a funny performer and is lucky enough to get something to work with. We learn very little about the lead characters’ lives and it is hard to see why this is such an issue. It’s hardly as dramatic a situation as the film constantly tries to convince us and I have no idea why it would change their lives so much. I mean at the start of the film Annie emulates Carrie fucking Bradshaw and reveals intimate details about her sex life for anyone to read. Isn’t this just the next natural step?
The titular sex tape is the script’s one joke and it is squeezed for as much comedy potential as possible. Unfortunately, this mostly falls flat so, to make up for it, the writers include more increasingly absurd situations that would never cross any normal person’s mind. Who, upon hearing that the video was now on YouPorn, would break into their headquarters and destroy their servers? Are we expected to believe that anyone who found the location of the site’s servers wouldn’t just think to send an email demanding their personal property be removed? Fuck off.
I admit there was potential here but all of that is sacrificed for cheap laughs. The narrative changes halfway through to an even less interesting blackmail plot and supporting characters are quickly forgotten to focus on the couple who are both dependent on technology yet still utterly clueless about how it works. For a while Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper, as the couple’s married friends, provide some light and, thankfully, humorous relief but the writers, not wanting them to outshine the entire movie, quickly dispatch of them.
At best, Sex Tape is a really long, fairly abstract advert for Apple. At worst, it is an unoriginal, badly written and contrived comedy with far fewer jokes than it needed. Even Diaz and Segel’s that managed to lift the limp Bad Teacher seems to be watered down here and both actors have lost some of their inherent charm. It’s as if they released just a little too late what they were letting themselves in for and were forced to carry on with the whole sorry charade whilst hating themselves a little bit.
Jason Segel had a hit writing and starring in Forgetting Sarah Marshall but every subsequent attempt to equal that has crashed to some extent. Unfortunately, Sex Tape is the fucking Hindenburg disaster of Segel’s career. I only hope it will convince him to either get back to the old days or just fucking stop.