SEX TAPE’s biggest asset is the great, highly relatable situation at its core: your average Joe & Josephine’s limited understanding of The Cloud. To this end, it has a very solid comic premise: happily married and with two kids, Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) in an effort to spice up their sex life decide to video themselves in all their drunken carnal glory, with a view to deleting it the next day. Of course this doesn’t happen, and after the video is automatically synched to the wireless wonder, the pair end up on a madcap, increasingly desperate journey to stop its seemingly inevitable spread into the public domain. So, a variation on the ‘one crazy night’ subgenre, then.
Re-uniting Segel and Diaz with their BAD TEACHER director Jake Kasdan has this time generated a decent smattering of laughs throughout, although mostly at its incidentals rather than overall hilarity – Annie’s disconcertingly wholesome prospective employer’s (Rob Lowe) penchant for having himself painted into Disney scenes, for example. But while a hefty sprinkling of these moments can carry the film so far, neither writers Segel, Nick Stoller and Kate Angelo nor Kasdan (who, it should always be added, also made the hugely underrated THE TV SET for HBO a few years back) ever manage to knit the episodes of the antics together into a cohesive whole; the script feels as briefly sketched-out as Jay and Annie’s production, burdening the cast to ‘bring it on the day’, and while they all have the talent to make it just-gigglesome-enough, no-one is exactly being stretched to deliver anything truly memorable.
Perhaps the strangest thing about SEX TAPE though, is that for all the ‘R-rated’ sell, it’s a strangely conservative experience on nearly every level. The biggest concern for the couple is that the video will prevent Annie’s ‘mommy blog’ from being purchased by a ‘family’ publishing company (who have already voiced concern at a recent post for even discussing sex, or rather the lack of it). Any rumpo in the film is of course kept very safe – even Little Segel, no stranger to the big screen, doesn’t get so much as a cameo. All of which leaves a strange dependence on swearing (which is fine, but sadly not always funny in and of itself) to guarantee those red band trailers and an artificial ‘adults only’ feel, and this ultimately hinders more than it helps. A pity really, given the strong starting point.
SEX TAPE is released July 16 in Australia and NZ, July 18 in the US, and September 3 in the UK.