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2 reviews, 2 user ratings

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Sex Tape
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by Peter Sobczynski

"Turn It Off!!!"
1 stars

The idea of a married couple whose attempt to spice up their floundering sex life by making their own homemade porn video backfires when it falls into the hands of others is one of those notions that sounds so good at first blush that you can hardly imagine how a film utilizing it could possibly miss. And yet, "Sex Tape" not only misses, it does so in spectacular fashion. This is a grotesquely misfired farce that isn't particularly funny, is certainly never sexy and which gives viewers the dubious pleasure of watching a couple of normally likable actors stumble around like idiots for 90-odd minutes until the whole enterprise finally crashes around them. Not even a couple of amusing supporting star turns can save this from being yet another entry in this summer's parade of sorry studio comedies.

Meet Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel). She writes a blog that is about to be acquired by a family-friendly conglomerate for big bucks and he has some kind of job that keeps him swimming in so many state-of-the-art iPads that he literally gives them away to family, friends and even the mailman. Alas, the burdens of work, marriage and family have put a damper on their once-thriving sex life until one night when, with the kids out of the house, the two decide to utilize the fabulous hi-def camera on Jay's new iPad to film themselves recreating "The Joy of Sex" in its entirety. The next morning, Annie tells Jay to erase their three-hour epic but due to a chain of circumstances too silly to get into, the video not only gets inadvertently synced to all the iPads that he has given out but has also been sent up into the great technological unknown that is the cloud. Mortified, the two set off on a desperate race to collect all of the iPads and delete the video before any of their friends--or the mailman--observes them going about their dirty business.

Imagine a head-on crash between an exceptionally smutty episode of "Love American Style" and an exceptionally long informercial for the iPad (which appears so often in the proceedings that it probably deserves above-the-title billing) and you pretty much have "Sex Tape" and frankly, you can keep it. The screenplay by Kate Angelo (the brains behind that modern classic of contemporary comedic mores that is "The Back-Up Plan") and Segel & Nicholas Stoller is a poorly structured wheeze that takes forever to establish its premise and then pretty much does nothing with it for the remainder of its seemingly endless 90-minute running time. Our heroes are pretty much idiots from start to finish and watching them flailing about as they dig themselves into deeper and deeper trouble almost entirely due to their own stupidity simply isn't that funny. If they had been smart and still found themselves stymied at every turn despite their attempts to make the right moves, that might have been funny. (This isn't even factoring in the fact that the technological mishap that drives the entire story apparently cannot happen in real life as depicted here.)

I am certain that Diaz and Segel could have pulled off such roles had they been given the chance but seeing them go through their substandard slapstick paces is a drag. Meanwhile, usually reliable supporting player Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper are wasted as Annie and Jay's best friends who get roped into the search but play off each other in interesting enough ways to make you wonder what the film might have been like if they had been cast in the leads. As the orchestrator of all the would-be chaos, director Jake Kasdan shows none of the promise that he once displayed in the infinitely better "Zero Effect" and "Orange County"--he demonstrate virtually no flair executing visual humor and the pacing always seems at least a half-step off. To be fair, this effort is slightly better than his previous collaboration with Diaz and Segel, the execrable "Bad Teacher," but that says more about the outright loathsomeness of that effort than it does about this more ordinarily useless work.

There are two funny scenes to be had in "Sex Tape"--a film which is technically supposed to be a comedy--and both of them derives their laughs not from the material but from the actors brought in to deliver it. In the first instance, Rob Lowe turns up as the seemingly straitlaced CEO of the blog-buying company who turns out to have a secret side when Jay and Annie turn up at his house in an effort to snag back another one of the iPads. The setup is contrived and the material is not particularly strong but Lowe, who has demonstrated a real flair for comedy in real years, has a blast playing a role that allows him to skewer his own past indiscretions regarding leaked sex tapes and the infamous musical number he performed with Snow White at the Oscars one year. The other comes with the surprise appearance of a familiar face as the head of the Internet porn company about to launch the video into cyberspace. Again, the material isn't funny--and becomes downright cringeworthy when he gets stuck delivering the film's message about the importance of love in a relationship or whatever--but he who shall not be named tears into it with a zeal that does indeed work, though it is far too little and far too late in the proceedings to do much good.

Although not nearly as obnoxious as such other recent comedies as "Blended" or "A Million Ways to Die in the West," "Sex Tape" is a real bummer that takes a basic universal conceit--the fear that the technology that we have increasingly come to rely on in our daily lives will one day inadvertently bite us on the butt (speaking of which--both stars display theirs and I will let you decide who the winner is in that particular beauty contest)--and wastes it so completely that many viewers will spend the running time thinking of how they might have done it better. I have no problem with comedies about embarrassment but shouldn't the embarrassment be limited to the characters on the screen and not also the people in the audience?

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=25902&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/17/14 18:05:46
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User Comments

11/08/14 Carol Miles Somebody explain Cameron Diaz to me. EH, FORGET IT. 2 stars
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  18-Jul-2014 (R)
  DVD: 21-Oct-2014


  DVD: 21-Oct-2014

Directed by
  Jake Kasdan

Written by
  Kate Angelo

  Jason Segel
  Cameron Diaz
  Rob Corddry
  Rob Lowe
  Ellie Kemper

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