Sunday, 20 July 2014

[Review] Sex Tape

At a certain point in Sex Tape, Jason Segal mentions that "no-one understands how the Cloud Works" with a certain conviction in his delivery. I have some bad news for the clueless putz who wrote that line. Turns out that I, like many others, do know how Cloud Technology works, and it doesn't work in the way that these clueless screenwriters would desperately like us to believe.

Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz play Jay and Annie. A married couple with two kids and not enough alone time to satiate their sexual cravings. In an effort to spice up their dormant sex life, the two decide to film themselves on Jay's iPad having a marathon session of sex. Only problem being that the video is uploaded to Jay's Cloud account and shared with his circle of friends.

Therein lies a major problem with Sex Tape. For whatever reason, Screenwriters Kate Angelo, Jason Segal and Nicholas Stoller have decided to treat their audience as if they were blithering idiots who have never used a computer. Anyone with the bare minimum of computing knowledge could easily tell these idiots that the quick fix to the problem would be for Jay to delete the content from his host account. Presto, problem solved in five minutes.

But instead, through the most contrived of reasons, the screenwriters decide to have Jay and Annie set out on a wacky adventurous night filled with hijinks as they desperately try to retrieve every iPad that the video has been shared to. Such bullshit is truly hard to swallow. Even worse, the screenwriters resort to the cheapest of tricks as they have certain side characters point out obvious remedies in hindsight.

It would be one thing for the screenwriters to treat the audience as blithering idiots, but it's a problem that also extends over to the lead characters. Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz share a likeable chemistry together, but the problem here is that neither of them acts like real human beings. As such, Jay and Annie would fit right at home in any bland primetime sitcom of their choosing.

Even though he has no involvement with this production what-so-ever, the ghost of Judd Apatow remains present. Which should come of no surprise considering the involvement of Apatow regulars (Director) Jake Kasdan and Jason Segal. Much like Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make A Porno, Sex Tape suffers from an identity crisis. It can't decide if it wants to be a raucous and racy sex filled comedy or if it wants to be a full-blown dramedy.  As such, its finds itself somewhere in between to middling effect.

Most of its comedic touches rely on a never-ending barrage of pratfalls, all of which come at the expense of Jason Segal. Including one moment that involves Segal outrunning a vicious German Shepard. Mind you, this is a scene almost entirely lifted from Father of the Bride. Even the sight of a naked rear ended Cameron Diaz does little to titillate. And when all else fails, then cue Jack Black as an Internet Porn King to ad-lib the names of a bunch of fake porno sites for cheap laughs. It's the very definition of hit-and-miss.

Meanwhile, Jay and Annie find themselves in the throes of a marital crisis as they question why it is they are still together. Whatever marital insights it tries to bring to the surface ultimately rings hollow. Despite its breezy run time of ninety minutes, the screenwriters barely have enough material to pad it all out let alone make it across the finish line.

There is an entire subplot involving Annie's attempts to sell a blog she is writing to an advertising company headed up by Rob Lowe. Granted, it does allow for one particularly funny scene involving Rob Lowe and Cameron Diaz snorting cocaine. But alas, that entire plot thread is abandoned and left unresolved come the end.

Further complicating matters is a mysterious stranger texting Jay and Annie blackmailing them with knowledge of the video. However, once the identity of the mysterious culprit is revealed it again serves to highlight the ludicrously overwrought thought process behind the script. Leaving the gag to fall entirely flat on its face. The rest of the time, the movie just seems content to be one long lavishly blatant advertisement for Apple products.

Marred by an exceedingly dumb premise that is too difficult to suspend disbelief too. It's the type of film that looks like the cast and crew had more fun making it than I did watching it. As it stands, Sex Tape is a middling of the road R-Rated comedy that can't decide if it wants to be a racy screwball comedy or a serious dramedy. As such, it doesn't work as either. Despite a couple of odd chuckles here and there, it's ultimately just a forgettable pandering piece of tripe. A real shame too, considering the ensemble of likeable talent in front-of and behind the camera.

(out of five)

-Daniel M



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