VOD film review: Sex Tape
Apple's product placement deal5
Mark Harrison | On 01, Jan 2015
Director: Jake Kasdan
Cast: Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe
Watch Sex Tape online in the UK: Amazon Prime / TalkTalk TV Store / Apple TV (iTunes) / Amazon Instant Video / Rakuten TV / Google Play
In its own terrible way, Sex Tape is a timeless comedy. It’s not hard to imagine that this script existed back in 1994 where the titular footage was committed to one of those new-fangled VHS cassettes, or even in 2004, to a DVD. Failing from the title down, the 2014 version we’ve got is woefully out of touch.
The film follows Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay, (Jason Segel) a couple who married and had kids when they were relatively young. As the stresses of being grown-up take their toll, they go from bonking like bunnies to losing their rhythm completely whenever they do get the rare opportunity for a cuddle.
In desperation, they use a date night to get drunk and film their own adaptation of The Joy Of Sex on one of the many iPads that Jay gets for free from work (we’ll come back to that). The hangover lands heavily when they realise that the video has been synced to the cloud, and to a number of other iPads they have gifted to their friends, family and colleagues.
The latent chemistry of Diaz and Segel in director Jake Kasdan’s previous Bad Teacher is elaborated upon here, but it doesn’t quite stretch to a full movie. Diaz has never been better in comedy than as the winsome straight-woman in There’s Something About Mary, and as was the case in 2014’s The Other Woman, her tin ear for comic timing lets her down here. Segel fares better, retaining the likeable lunk quality that he’s carried from Freaks & Geeks onwards, even though he’s never been in anything this bad before. His character has to bear the brunt of the clumsily updated contrivance that gets the plot moving – that the radio station where Jay works gives him so many free iPads, he can just give them away as gifts.
If it had arrived a decade or two earlier, there might at least have been a physical MacGuffin to go after, such as a VHS or a DVD. But when it’s just a digital file in the Cloud, it feels like an over-reaction for Jay and Annie to even get up and leave the house to fix this problem, let alone the insane, painfully unfunny sequence of slapstick that ensues when they visit Annie’s boss, Hank (Rob Lowe).
If the worst we could say about it is that the writers failed to convincingly convert the stakes into physical action, that might be forgivable. But the reason why this is such a calamity is because the film itself is embarrassed by sex – and damning of anybody who might enjoy doing it or watching porn.
Sex Tape pantomimes at transgressive raunchiness, but it’s actually studio-sanctioned every step of the way. Witness how well Apple comes out of what is essentially a story about their technology running rampant and sharing people’s stuff without permission. The best writing was done by whoever finagled their product placement contract, which requires Segel to manfully soldier through nods to the plus sides of the pesky tablets, from the “amazing camera” to their apparent indestructibility.
The result is a film with a flaccid attitude to sex, in which you can’t help but feel that the lead couple’s marital problems would be exacerbated rather than solved by the time the credits finally roll. It protests its own raunchiness, but it’s perhaps the least sexy film conceivable.
Sex Tape is available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.