It's been a brutal year for comedy. Yes, the summer got off to an encouraging start with the appealing combo of “22 Jump Street” and “Neighbours”, but boy howdy, have things elsewhere been dreary. “Tammy”, “That Awkward Moment”, “Walk of Shame”, “The Other Woman”...the list goes on, and in “Sex Tape” finds its latest offender. Re-teaming the stars and director of 2011's “Bad Teacher” doesn't sound hugely enticing, but somehow “Sex Tape” finds a way to tumble below even that low bar. It's a staggeringly empty movie, a fact made inexcusable given its topical week of release in the UK, during which the security of our digital secrets have been questioned, and our fellow man's perverted need to ogle potential leaks damned. Yet, even in a relevant climate, “Sex Tape” is a gormless farce, no more erotic than a wet fart, and decidedly less funny.
“Sex Tape” is the classic age old tale of two boring middle-class people who in a bid to spice up their marriage, film a sex tape. As is normal, this particular couple also happen to hand out Ipads like balloons, even taking the time to muse on the device's improved specifications, indestructibility and general awesomeness during regular conversation. Their sex tape syncs up to all the Ipads they've distributed around, the owners including two-dimensional friends, a potential business associate and the mail-man. Yup, the friggin' mail-man. Bet the Christmas bonus you slipped your postie four years is starting to look pretty meagre now, eh? So yeah, our two hapless protagonists spend the rest of the movie trying to recover those oh-so fantastic Ipads, doing a little blow, nearly killing a dog and helping to endorse uPorn along the way.
If you can't identify with that, well, what are ya doin' with your life?
I'm kidding. If any of that sounds remotely routine, then you should probably buy a bible or at least consult your local GP. Expect the phrases “ignorant” and “delusional” to be bandied around.
I think Cameron Diaz missed her true vocation in life. In an ideal world, she'd be putting that killer smile and bubbly loveliness to use reading meteorological predictions on TV. She's always been a rather pleasant screen presence, but as the years flit by, it becomes increasingly obvious she's not much of an actress. Certainly, landing punch-lines isn’t her forte. Jason Segel lost a lot of weight for his role. I guess that's where he kept all his funny, because he seems flat, tired and disengaged with what's going on around him. I'd normally chalk that up to an actor recognising the screenplay's deficiencies during principal photography, but he helped write the damn thing. Together they have average chemistry, the sort of slight, Hollywood rapport that might appear passable alongside smarter, sharper material. On this occasion though, such service isn't on the menu.
Ultimately “Sex Tape” is wasteful because it's boring. I could forgive the lack of thoughtfulness, humanity or visual panache ( it looks like an episode of your least favourite sitcom) if the thing was as wild, debauched and uproarious as it wants to be. It never gets close though. In fact, it's a fairly prudish movie, largely bereft of raunch, earning its R-rating through moderate cussing. Small, redeeming moments arise from an amusing Rob Lowe, a strange gag involving Disney caricatures and a chubby, precocious child who is destined to become a super-villain (I predict big things for you Harrsion Holzer!). Otherwise, it makes vanilla ice-cream exciting by comparison.
A Review by Daniel Kelly, 2014