Cameron Diaz as Annie
Jason Segel as Jay
Rob Corddry as Robby
Ellie Kemper as Tess
Rob Lowe as Hank
Nat Faxon as Max
Nancy Lenehan as Linda
Giselle Eisenberg as Nell
Harrison Holzer as
Sebastian Hedges Thomas as Clive
Timothy Brennen as Walt
Krisztina Koltai as Marta
Randall Park as Edward
Directed by Jake Kasdan
At this point, you would think that Rob Lowe would stay as far away from sex tapes as humanly possible, having put that part from his dark past behind him, but thank God he didn’t, because he’s really the best thing going for “Sex Tape,” and R-rated comedy that plays as a “Bad Teacher” reunion that no one really wanted.
The premise is so simple one might wonder why no one else has thought of it before with Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz playing long-time married couple Jay and Annie, whose love life has been on the skids for some time. The film opens with a fairly lengthy blog entry from Diaz’s Annie, a mommy blogger who tells her readers about first meeting her future husband in college and how much they had sex before marriage and kids put a kibosh on that. It’s safe to assume from the title that they decide to spice things up by making a sex tape, which Jay accidentally uploads into the Cloud, which is connected to dozens of iPads they’ve given away as gifts.
That’s basically the set-up for a movie in which we’ll watch the couple frantically trying to get back iPads from friends, family and the mailman, and it’s about as flimsy a premise as one might imagine. Granted, I don’t know that much about iPads and the Cloud and what’s possible but surely there must be an easier way to put a stop to their video being downloaded by others without all the running around.
Something about this comedy just feels flat as if someone came up with the premise and realized all the great gags that might come out of it, but then failed to deliver on the idea’s potential.
Much of that may have to do with the fact that Diaz and Segel just don’t seem to be making much of an effort and their chemistry just isn’t where you’d expect from a married couple, compared to their relationship in “Bad Teacher.” Although “Sex Tape” is relatively short, it takes quite some time to get to the actual filming of the sex tape and after that, many of the jokes feel like they’re played within the next 20 minutes. That’s why it comes down to their best friends, the brilliantly-cast Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper, to offer some of the best laughs as they agree to help them retrieve the other iPads.
This eventually leads them to Rob Lowe’s wealthy investor who just brought Annie’s blog into his network, and that’s where things start getting fun as Lowe plays with his bad boy image, offering drugs to Annie, while Jay runs around upstairs trying to find the gifted iPad while being chased by his dog. While our focus would normally be on Jay’s exploits, it’s what should be a fairly overplayed drug scene between Lowe and Diaz that offers the movie’s most consistent laughs.
Not everyone is playing ball and once their friends’ teen son gets his hands on the video, he holds the couple for ransom, threatening to upload it to an amateur sex site if they don’t pay him. It eventually comes down to Annie and Jay going directly to the source, the company that runs the servers, allowing for a “secret” cameo that starts out funny but follows the film’s general trajectory by wearing out its welcome.
As much as I constantly want to give Jake Kasdan the benefit of the doubt, being that he directed what should have become a “Spinal Tap”-like cult classic of the 00s, John C. Reilly’s “Walk Hard,” as well as being heavily involved in the Fox show “New Girl,” it just doesn’t seem like he’s working from a very strong script, which is surprising, considering it’s co-written by Segel and Nicholas Stoller, who have made a number of very funny comedies together. Much of the problem seems to lie in the editing, both in the pacing and the construction of the story, but also in the fact that much of its 100-minute run time plays like an ad for Apple products.
By the time we actually see the “edited for an R-rating” sex tape, presented in a similar manner as the credits scene of “The Hangover,” it’s kind of a letdown. We’ve seen far funnier and raunchier bits from Diaz and Segel and by that point, we’ve been so worn down, it’s hard to find much of it to be funny.
The Bottom Line:
A fantastic but far-too-short appearance by Rob Lowe and some well-timed quips by Rob Corddry easily overshadow the lazy performances by the film’s stars, but that’s not enough for this high concept comedy to deliver on the promised laughs.