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'Sex Tape' Needs Cinematic Cialis
A-game supporting cast can’t save this faux-bawdy misfire.


There’s a conceivable reality in which Sex Tape really works. Director Jake Kasdan has handled material that alternates between the emotionally real and comedic before during his time on Freaks and Geeks, and Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller (co-writers on this film alongside Kate Angelo) have proven adept at keeping those plates spinning themselves with their work on Forgetting Sarah Marshall. And the idea of examining marriage/family and the toll it can take on the sex lives of those entangled in it is certainly fruitful ground on which farcical comedy could be based. Unfortunately, we’re getting the dismal Bad Teacher vintage of Jake Kasdan, leaving us with a largely unfunny movie whose plays at resonance similarly miss the mark.

Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) are in a rut. Their relationship was one originally built on thoroughly passionate and mutual sexual attraction, but one marriage and two kids later they find that their time for such sensual connection has largely evaporated. In an effort to rekindle their spark, Annie comes up with the idea of videotaping an evening spent plowing through every position listed in their copy of The Joy of Sex. Much to their chagrin, the video is shared amongst many of their friends and acquaintances due to an unfortunate quirk of Jay’s penchant for giving away used iPads with synchronized content as gifts. And if the logic behind how their amorous encounter makes its way out into the world feels tortured to you, don’t worry. The film discards the threats offered by this possible public humiliation equally haphazardly.

That’s not to suggest the film isn’t trying as its fringes are populated with comedic ringers, every one of which is given the opportunity to join in on the fun. Nat Faxon, Artemis Asteriadis and Kumail Nanjiani all maximize their single scenes in the movie and make a strong comedic impression. Rob Cordry and Ellie Kemper as Annie and Jay’s married best friends also do nice work on the periphery, and Rob Lowe gets to swing for the fences as the CEO aiming to purchase Annie’s motherhood-based blog during his big scene in the film’s latter stages. But this is a 90-minute movie, and those performers are only on screen for a minor fraction of that runtime. This is Diaz and Segel’s show for the most part and they are not up to the task, generating little heat as a pairing both comedically and dramatically. The height of this film’s wit is to have each character be at a loss for words at multiple stages in the film, and those moments are drenched in flop sweat and play like comedic flailing instead of a showcase for gifted performers.

Most disappointing of all is how reserved the movie ends up feeling. I know that sounds astounding given the subject matter, but for a movie attempting to speak about sexuality honestly, Sex Tape has no interest in honest depictions of said acts. One would expect a certain level of frankness from such a premise (and from a performer like Segel, who has used his own full-frontal nudity to startlingly comedic effect before). By trying to serve these two masters (broad comedy and honest intimacy), Sex Tape doesn’t do justice by either and feels like a farce.

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