Sex Tape, however, still suffers from having more chuckles than actual ribald laughs




by Steve Pulaski

Jake Kasdan’s Sex Tape reminds me nothing less of the kinds of films independent actors/director/producer/writer Joe Swanberg makes on a regular basis, involving marriage, the loss of a relationship spark, sex, and the way people communicate on a daily basis. Sex Tape is one of Swanberg’s medium-length films stretched out to feature-length, and given a broader, more mainstream appeal, outside of unsteady camera shots, film-school structure, and naturalistic dialog that may be viewed as “too talky” by some people.

Sex Tape, in a thematic sense, hits all the right bases, touching on them just enough to make some sort of an identifiable impact on the film. Ideas such as the technological divide between the older and the newer generation, the effects of marriage, lovemaking souring over time, the effort to bring more spice and energy into the bedroom, and the value of pornography are all discussed to some extent in the film and to some solid effect. It’s the writing by Kate Angelo, Jason Segel, and Nicholas Stoller (The Muppets and Neighbors) that derails the project into the “maximum antics, minimum laughter” sector of comedy I refer to frequently; a sector emphasizing incredulous mishaps and off-the-wall comedy that works to lessen the amount of laughs one gets from the film itself.

Sex Tape
Directed by
Jake Kasdan
Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Corddry
Release Date
18 July 2014
Steve’s Grade: C-

The film follows Jay and Annie (Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz), a relatively young-couple, who used to constantly have sex, anywhere. In the opening monologue, Annie, writing a blog on her website, asks her readers if she remembers the first time you saw your husband naked, the first time he saw you naked, the first erection, and so forth. Annie then writes, in a softly sad way, “do you remember the last time you saw your husband naked?,” alluding to seeing him in a more casual sense rather than an intimate one. It has become evident that after having two children, and being immersed in their lives, both Jay and Annie have lost track of their own, especially their own love-lives.

After Annie believes she has secured a blog-deal with a business executive (Rob Lowe), she wants to celebrate with her husband. She sends the two children to grandma’s and all she wants to do is have an intimate evening with her husband, to which he has no quibbles about. The two try to have sex everywhere in the house, but either experience distractions or impotency in the process. Annie comes up with the idea to take a few shots of tequila and film themselves having sex. The two decide to have sex like jackrabbits, filming themselves doing every position that can be done from the book “The Joy of Sex.” After three hours of constant sex, the two pass out and the video is captured on Jay’s iPad.

The next morning, a text from an unknown number to Jay reveals that their sex tape was uploaded into the cloud and sent out to all their friends’ iPads. To make up for one of the most incredulous ideas I’ve seen all year, turns out, because Jay’s a music expert, he obtains many iPads, creates playlists, and gives them to people as gifts. Everyone from the couple’s closest friends (Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper) to Annie’s new boss, to the mailman has one of the gifted iPads, which now contains a three hour video of the two of them having sex. In a tireless pursuit, the two manage to try and obtain the iPads by the end of the night.

Kasdan’s last directed-film was Bad Teacher, also starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, a thoroughly-disappointing film that I remember exiting hoping that the actors of the film got paid more than the writers. With Kasdan’s followup feature, I hope the same thing. Many raunchy, ribald scenes exist in Sex Tape in ample amounts, everything from Jay getting attacked by a dog, to Annie doing cocaine. Scenes like this possess the illusion that they are funny without actually being that way, while scenes where characters are left to their verbal wit are the ones that are memorable and provide for considerable laughs. Consider Rob Corddry, an actor who has appeared in dozens of comedies over the last few years. He is given some of the funniest lines of the film, whether he’s impersonating the mayor of a town called Thousand Oaks or desperately trying to watch the sex tape of his best friends. In addition to Corddry, the other strong comedic talent, in terms of verbal wit, is Lowe, who plays one of the most unexpected characters of his career, in a devilishly fun way. Then there’s one final character by an actor, who we see far too little of nowadays, at the very end that I’ll be damned if I spoil.

Our two leading performers are great at bearing enough energy to at least carry out the dryer, more contrived scenes with a certain effervescence that remains commendable. Diaz has always had a lot of energy and charm as an actress, and Segel also has a talent for playing dumb or adding a little bit of “bad acting” to his character, when he’s forced to play bumbling or clueless given a certain circumstance. Sex Tape, however, still suffers from having more chuckles than actual ribald laughs, but the charisma and talents of the actors as well as some of the present, if relatively mild, thematic leverage give the film more quips than the average interchangeable sex comedy.