Film Review: Sex Tape

Tom Jones wanted to blow us all up with his Sex Bomb. Soft Cell wanted us to get all hot under the shin pads with their Sex Dwarf. And lookie here, who’s this? Why, it’s only Cameron blinkin’ Diaz and Jason bloody Segel, come to make us chortle so hard our half-digested dinners’ll vibrate back up and out our gullets with their brand new movie, ‘Sex Tape’.

Segel and Diaz play Jay and Annie, a married couple whose rampant lust for getting their mitts on one another’s jiggly bits has faded and degraded with the addition of a couple of ankle-biters to their comfy, comfy lives.

How comfy? Well, she’s a lifestyle blogger being courted for a lucrative buyout by Rob Lowe’s rosy-cheeked toy soldier of a CEO. He, meanwhile, is an ageing Yo La Tengo and Belle and Sebastian-loving merchant of gittish good taste, who’s so flush he hands out iPads to mates and acquaintances with an apparent munificence most of us wouldn’t be able to bring to dishing out a mini Mars bar to our best pal.

But if we learned nothing else from the story of Jesus, it’s that generosity gets you nowhere. And lo, so it proves for Jay as the two just-outlined plot threads intersect and get busy with one another.

First, he and Annie attempt to bring a bit of sweaty lust back to their relationship by making a video of themselves performing every position in ’70s best-seller The Joy of Sex. Then it turns out the last round of iPads Jay gave away just happen to each hold a copy of that selfsame sex tape. Cue the theoretically rich farce of Annie and Jay racing to retrieve all the pads before the tape goes public.

Now, strange little world we all live in, since being released in the US back in July to a reception which blended bored indifference with mediocre box office, ‘Sex Tape’ has in the last few days suddenly assumed a creepy real-world relevance – via the hacked ‘n’ posted nude pics hoo-ha involving Jennifer Lawrence, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and several other young women in the public eye.

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Not that creepiness is a quality attached to internet pornography by the movie’s director, Jake Kasdan (previously responsible for surprise Diaz hit ‘Bad Teacher’ and, in the distant mists of time, several episodes of Segel’s small screen big break, ‘Freaks and Geeks’). Instead we get Jay freely admitting to Annie about his own smut repository, and an appearance from an online porn baron character who turns out to be as gruff ‘n’ cuddly as a teddy bear with a slight hangover.

This reticence to say anything insightful on a subject it purports to at least partially be about means that ‘Sex Tape’ is left to plough an uneven furrow of comedy which combines pure liquid schmaltz (especially prevalent in the final third) and a more raucous, rather smug strain of humour familiar from the movies of Kasdan and Segel’s old mentor, Judd Apatow.

‘Sex Tape’ isn’t as radioactively terrible as several other comedies released this year (‘A Million Ways to Die in the West’, ‘Last Vegas’). But it is as stale as a horny teenager’s wank-flannel – a shortcoming epitomised by the scene where Segel scraps it out with Lowe’s dog; you’ve not only sat through this very scene before, you’ve sat through it in a Cameron Diaz movie before (‘There’s Something About Mary’). And there’s certainly no reason to sit through it again now.

Sex Tape is out now in the UK

Paul Martin is a professional writer who lives in Kilburn, north London. Paul Martin is deeply disturbed by the amount of neatly trimmed beards he sees these days, that make the wearers look like Matthew Kelly or a young Kenny Loggins. Paul Martin can occasionally be spotted at @PaulFilmDoom

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