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Thursday, July 24, 2014 12:01 am

Dismal Sex Tape

Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz in Sex Tape.

 

In watching Jake Kasdan’s dismal Sex Tape, I was under the impression that many of its key players were having a series of days like this during its making – uninspired, flat, dull and not at all funny. The movie is a lackluster effort where lead actor Jason Segel, screenwriters Kate Angelo, Nicholas Stoller and Segel and Kasden are concerned. Their work here is the very definition of phoning it in. These four never exert themselves, resulting in a film that doesn’t even reach the level of mediocrity.

In a case of wish-fulfillment casting, Segel and Cameron Diaz are Jay and Annie, a married couple who are stuck in a rut. Like so many of us, everyday life is kicking their butts and they’ve got the stress to prove it. Any passion they once had for one another has become a casualty to work commitments and parental responsibilities with the constant fatigue they’re dealing with taking its toll on their sex life. Though they plan to be intimate, something always comes up. However, an evening that finds their kids staying the night at Grandma’s house gives them the opportunity to reacquaint themselves and after a few false starts, they decide to record themselves having sex. This manages to get them randy and while Jay intends to delete the digital naughty after they’re done, a piece of sharing software downloads it to every IPad he owns or once owned. Conveniently he works in radio. The station buys these by the bundle and once he gets an updated IPad, he gives his old ones to friends and family because they all have killer playlists on them. (Yeah, I’m still scratching my head over this little plot point.)

All of this takes place during the film’s first tepid half-hour. The seemingly interminable hour that follows consists of them scurrying about trying to retrieve the wayward IPads so that the video can be deleted from them. Thankfully, the ones belonging to their son and grandma are easily dealt with. However, getting back those that belong to their best friends Robbie and Tess (Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper) and Annie’s perspective new boss (Rob Lowe) proves to be a bit more difficult.

The needless and silly complications that arise in them completing this task are ludicrous and insulting. While it would certainly be embarrassing to knock on someone’s door, explain the situation and ask for the device back so the film could be erased, it’s much more logical than say pretending to collect for charity and ingratiating yourself into a home by saying you have diarrhea so you can look for the device on the sly, which is what these two idiots do. Before the evening is through, the moronic couple will have to contend with a vicious guard dog, be compromised into doing hard drugs, take their children to break into a building that houses an Internet porn site and in the end realize just why they fell in love in the first place.

The ridiculous antics these characters go through are so inane that every attempt the film makes to deliver any sentiment rings hollow. Equally troubling are the mixed messages coming from various supporting players. Jack Black appears as the porn magnate whose site Jay and Annie’s illicit romp has been uploaded to and he’s the one who ends up setting the couple straight where their emotional priorities should lie. Now, that’s not to say that smut peddlers aren’t able to dispense with relationship advice but the tone with which Black does so is so crude it doesn’t even generate a laugh. And what’s the deal with Robbie and Tess’s son Howard (Harrison Holzer), a foulmouthed preteen who suddenly morphs into a full-blown extortionist when the recording ends up in his hands and he threatens to make it go viral if Jay doesn’t pay up? There’s no indication that this kid is as nefarious as he is, that he hates Jay or that he is capable of being so tech savvy – this behavior simply comes from out of left field and serves as another reminder of how genuinely stupid this film, Kasden and his writers are.

Segel must take two helpings of blame for contributing to this asinine script and being as an enthusiastic as a piece of roadkill on screen. While Diaz and the rest are truly trying to find the laughs in this dead-on-arrival script, you get the impression the actor knows he’s in a dog and simply doesn’t care. Segel’s biding time here, waiting for his misery to come to an end, much as I was sitting through this brainless piece of dreck.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.

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