Boring, befuddling and slightly out-of-touch are all criticisms that can be aimed squarley atSex Tape (2014). In what is seemingly just a ninety minute product placement for the nifty capabilities of Apple products, this sex comedy falls limp very quickly, despite it being built on the premise of hot-blooded homebodies paying woefully for their dirty deeds. Playing on the timely issue (and hazard) of what might happen when private videos accidentally get leaked to the public, this film could have been insightful, topical even. What is actually delivered is uneven and, at times, too smart for its own good. Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) are college sweethearts who have fallen into a rut.
With two kids and thriving careers, there’s barely any time left for sex. In the opening sequence, Annie moans in a blog post about how she and Jay used to have a prolific sex life when they first met – cue a montage of scenes Diaz and Segel completely fail to convince as college co-eds. All that magic soon dwindles when the real world comes barging in. In an attempt to rekindle the magic, they pack the kids off to Grandma’s house and spend the evening huffing, puffing and drinking until something sticks. Oh, and despite their minimal knowledge of how technology works – evidenced greatly later on – they decide to film all their salacious acts. Jay accidentally uploads the resulting video to his ‘cloud’ and soon it’s on every iPad that he has recently gifted to friends and family.
What on Earth is a couple to do when all their bits have been broadcast? Cue a night full of madcap dashing to-and-fro, attempting to snatch up iPads and destroy the evidence. The fundamental flaw of Sex Tape is that it’s built on a faulty idea; that technology is easily tamed, yet too intricate to perform the simplest task. Which then brings up some questions and qualms: How can Jay manage to keep to iPads continually updated and synced for work, yet he doesn’t know how to wipe a synced video? Why is Annie doing cocaine with her boss, Hank (Rob Lowe) while Jay is being chased around Hank’s house by a maniacal German shepherd? Furthermore, why does this sequence take up an vast portion of the film? Why would Jay and Annie make a sex tape to begin with if they cannot seem to understand how simple file storage works?
All of this and more help to fund a plot that is merely a nip-slip of epic proportions. The plot is wafer-thin and disjointed, the comedic timing never lands – despite fun chemistry between Diaz and Segel – and the film never finds its footing in proper pacing or believability. What could have been a smart comedy outlining the modern dangers of techno-incompetency falls into the trap of going for cheap, tone-deaf laughs instead. Sex Tape simply never seems to find its rhythm and, in the end, leaves you feeling very unsatisfied.
Allie Gemmill | @alliegem