Review: Sex Tape (2014)

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Director: Jake Kasdan
Screenwriters: Kate Angelo, Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller
Cast: Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, Nat Faxon, Nancy Lenehan, Harrison Holzer & Giselle Eisenberg
Runtime: 94 min // Certificate: 15

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJTct8eHKYE]

Titles can be deceptive…

Recent events have granted Sex Tape, the new “comedy” from Bad Teacher director Jake Kasdan, a relevance that is wholly undeserved, which is perhaps the biggest crime of this whole scandal. Marking two for two in the 2014 Execrable Comedy Awards for Ms. Diaz, Sex Tape manages to be simultaneously lewd and prudish without ever raising so much as a wry laugh, despite going to desperate and often tragic lengths in order to extract a reaction – any reaction – from its audience.

If you’ve seen the trailer for Sex Tape, you’ve basically seen the film. Annie (Diaz; Being John Malkovich, back when she was talented…) and Jay (Segel; Despicable Me) need to rekindle their marriage so in an act of reckless abandon they decide to film themselves recreating every position in “The Joy of Sex”. A mistake on Jay’s part sees the tape synced to a bunch of iPads in the possession of their friends and family, which the two of them must then race against time to either retrieve or destroy by whatever means necessary. Inspired!

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Now, I can handle the execrable “humour”, I can tolerate the limp performances and I can just about forgive the flaccid story. Heck, I can even stomach the incessant product placement that bombards you from all angles (when you aren’t being deepthroated by Apple products, websites like YouPorn are getting some much needed publicity…). What I simply cannot abide, however, is that a film called Sex Tape is as frigid and stuffy as this. In the first few minutes we’re bombarded with exposition about how passionate and intimate Annie and Jay used to be before they had kids, transposed over scenes of them getting down to some bland, R-rated fucking. Desperate to be seen as edgy, perhaps even filthy, while simultaneously indulging in clean, tame and glossy sex, this is a film that wants to have its soggy biscuit and eat it too, and as such one can’t help but be struck by the contemptible flavourlessness of it all.

Of course, this wouldn’t be an issue were the film even remotely funny, but thanks to the total dearth of laughs I needed something – anything – to keep me entertained. Crass jokes about sex (see what I mean; it wants to be sexy, yet it’s lumbered with a teenager’s mentality at all times), embarrassingly out-dated cultural references, and some lame slapstick is about all this film has going for it, and I can honestly say I didn’t actually laugh once. There were a few minor titters, sure – I counted 4, though at least 2 of them might just have been wind – but that is nowhere near enough to justify Sex Tape’s 90-minute runtime.

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Prudish, occasionally slut-shaming and victim-blaming, and dull as ditchwater, Sex Tape isn’t just humourless, it’s also pitiful. It’s a ten minute short (at best), dragged out for what feels like an eternity in the most laborious and inane fashion imaginable, complete with all of the classic hallmarks of a contemporary Cameron Diaz-led comedy. If you aren’t already sick to your back teeth of her There’s Something About Mary-shtick, you will be after this. The only remotely self-aware performance in the entire film comes via a Jack Black cameo, though even he manages to outstay his welcome, despite only being on screen for about three minutes.

Sex Tape is the cinematic equivalent of wanking with sandpaper, and should therefore be avoided at all costs for the good of your health…

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