A lot of the time with a failed comedy, it is apparent that the cast and filmmakers had a much better time making the film then the audience is having watching it. It may at first seem like that could be the case here, after all, Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, and director Jake Kasdan all worked together on the fairly enjoyable Bad Teacher. However, once you actually watch the film, it becomes clear that this is something else entirely. Every so often, old friends will reunite, and that spark that made them so compatible before is just gone, and they spend the day sitting in awkward silence. Sex Tape is that awkward silence.
We start off on a nice little college campus. Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) are a couple who have sex, a lot and at when they graduate, get married. Now while you might be asking more important questions such as, “how did these two lovebirds meet?” or “what do they have in common?” you shouldn’t be, because then you care a whole lot more then this movie does. What does seem to matter is the fact that through kids, and marriage, this sex life that was so rampant before has all but completely died. Desperate to spice things up, Annie, who is about to sell her motherhood blog to a wealthy investor named Hank (Rob Lowe), decides to send the kids away and seduce Jay. After some fumbling around, they decide that the only solution is to make a three hour video sex opera with every possible position. It works like a charm and everything seems hunky dory, for a moment. Jay comes to discover that by not deleting the video, he has actually managed to sync it to a series of Ipads that he has given away as gifts (yeah, ok) and the two must go on a quest to vanquish all of the copies before their friends and family are traumatized for life.
For a film that could not be more blatant about it’s intent to be a raunchy sex comedy, this film has staggeringly little that is either funny, or sexy about it. Everything about this is so completely paint by numbers here that it might as well have been directed by a bottle of air. It’s all of the dumb tropes you expect out of the comedies you catch at one in the morning on Cinemax, with writing so completely idiotic that people like Kevin James and Rob Schneider are thanking their lucky stars to not be involved. Every so often, something small will work, but really, this thing is dead on arrival.
Perhaps the biggest failing of this is the complete lack of chemistry between the two leads. Their forced banter worked well in Bad Teacher because the entire joke relied on it being forced, but here when they’re actually supposed to be in love, it completely falters. Never for a moment is it even remotely believable that these two even like each other, and as they bicker for ninety minutes, they bring out the respective worst tendencies of each other. Diaz falls back on the shrill straight woman persona she’s been riding for years, and Segel is like a fifteen year old boy who’s bewildered to be in the same room as boobs. When the only hint of romance in the film has to come from long bits of dialogue where these two have to explain to the audience why they love each other, that’s the indicator that perhaps this should have been recast. Most of the other cast members don’t fare well either, with the usually hilarious Rob Corddry in particular given nothing to do. In fact, the film even has a huge surprise cameo towards the end, and although this particular person gets about ten minutes of screen time, they can’t even find anything to do with them. The only person who wrings some humor out of all of this is Rob Lowe, endlessly likable and very fun in the role of a seemingly straight laced corporate type who actually has more of an interest in cocaine, Slayer, and tattoos.
All of the humor itself is either over or under calculated. There are plenty of annoying “How does this mysterious Apple technology that has existed for over a decade now work” jokes, further extending this terrible trend in Hollywood that all characters in movies have to be utter idiots about technology, which is especially sad considering Jay’s job directly deals with the things in the first place! The rest are either stock physical gags, or lame improvisational bits that drag on for far too long. Although it’s only ninety minutes long, the story itself is so thin that it feels like an eternity to get there, ultimately coming to a fairly lame, anticlimactic conclusion.
Sex Tape is like a high school film project that was done at the last minute. Nothing is thought out well, the cast is just whoever was available, and the direction is sloppy at best. Honestly, you’d be better off watching an actual sex tape, those are funnier.