By Jessica Delfanti | July 18, 2014
Director: Jake Kasdan
Writers: Kate Angelo, Jason Segel
Stars: Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Nat Faxon
In an age of raunchy and funny-awkward comedy ushered in by Judd Apatow’s films, it’s only natural that someone would meander into the awkward-rich environment of the “sex tape.” Relationship hilarity, indecent exposure, commentary on a digital age and inappropriate voyeurism could all come into play to create a smart, biting, and personal comedy. Unfortunately, Jake Kasdan’s Sex Tape misses the mark, delivering an uncreative if well acted package with too much slapstick, not enough humanity, and a few good jokes about the Cloud.
Sex Tape follows Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel), a married couple that have lost their spark. After making a sex tape in hopes of rekindling their romance, they begin receiving ominous threats that indicate the tape has leaked–but who could it be? Cue the couple racing all over their neighborhood trying to track down all the copies, targeting their friends (Ellie Kemper and Rob Corddry), Annie’s potential boss (Rob Lowe), and even possibly the mail man.
Unfortunately, most of this pursuit plays out in hoky physical comedy that doesn’t click, like when Jay gets chased through a mansion by a vicious German Shepherd. It. Just. Won’t. Die! Where have we seen this before? Probably in various children’s films. Which is part of the weirdness of Sex Tape; it uses persistent tricks from child-facing comedy that feels discordant with the subject matter.
Maybe the problem here is that accessing the real humor of a sex tape requires a level of maturity and understanding. Certainly, there’s a base element of “making fun of stupid people” that Sex Tape hits, but the truly interesting things–sexual shame, body image, intimacy, that “everybody does it” quality of sex–are completely missed. If the script included funny but bitingly accurate observations, like the uncensored discussions about sex from Jonah Hill’s character in Superbad, this film could have hit something special. Instead, it’s a throwaway comedy that barely hits a mediocre bar.
Which is disappointing, considering the talent in the headline. Segel has shown himself to be top quality in both writing (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and acting (How I Met Your Mother, I Love You Man, and others), and he certainly has his moments in Sex Tape. Diaz, for her part, indicates a knack for comedic timing that benefits from good chemistry with Segel. The true star, not surprisingly, is Lowe, who may just be replicating his Parks and Rec performance but boy, does he do it well.
Despite some laugh out loud moments of true, good comedy, Sex Tape is a dull and childish approach to a very adult concept. If you do end up watching it in theaters, you’ll walk out with the images of Diaz and Segel’s butts burned into your retinas, and the conviction to never let your sex drive and your hard drive mix.