A sex tape sex comedy sounds damn near impossible to screw up, especially with a pair of comedic actors as game as Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel at the center. Unfortunately, something went drastically wrong at some point during production. This placid flick is neither provocative nor funny. Nope, it’s shockingly dull and an unfortunate disappointment for all concerned.
The strangest thing about ‘Sex Tape’ is that it’s not so much a movie about a sex tape as it is a feature length advertisement for the iPad almost as blatant as Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn’s Google advertisement from a year ago. Jason Segel stars as some sort of audio engineer whose job for some reason involves getting two free iPads with enough regularity to give them away to family and friends, when he isn’t mumbling about how amazing the resolution is or commenting on the incredible structural integrity of the device. (Yep, Segel actually says both of those things with a straight face.) Diaz plays his wife, a mommy blogger who’s just about to sell her blog to a barely masked Parker Brothers for an apparently obscene amount of money. They have a seemingly perfect life with two cute kids and all the iPads they could ever use. However, their once-thriving sex life has gone dry. To spice things up, Diaz suggests they make a sex tape using (you guessed it) their incredible high resolution iPad. Unfortunately, the sex tape ends up being transferred to the mound of iPads they’ve given away. So they embark on a night of wacky adventures in an attempt to track down those stupid, sexy iPads.
What follows is a series of awkward and painfully long scenes in which Segel and Diaz visit a handful of characters, say “iPad” as often as possible, and attempt to delete every copy of their steamy video. Aside from the embarrassing amount of product placement, this isn’t necessarily a horrible concept for comedy. With two lead actors known for fearlessly diving into sexual humiliation onscreen for the sake of laughs, and an underrated comedy director calling the shots (Jake Kasden, ‘Walk Hard’), this could have been an amusing raunchy comedy about suburban America’s discomfort and obsession with the act of babymaking.
Yet, somewhere along the line, it feels as though everyone gave up and decided to trot out lazy slapstick instead. Pratfalls pile up, mock violence rears its ugly head, and much mugging happens. Granted, there’s nothing wrong with physical comedy, but the way it’s played here is so static and slow that the timing never works. Segel and Diaz (who were previously a charmingly funny team in Kasdan’s perfectly decent ‘Bad Teacher’) never quite click with their characters or the movie. They struggle to keep scenes afloat without ever seeming comfortable. Only a handful of small comedic asides from Rob Corddry, Rob Lowe and an unbilled third act guest star get any laughs. Even those giggles register mostly because viewers are grateful for anything resembling a functioning joke.
The most difficult part of watching ‘Sex Tape’ is knowing that everyone involved is better than this. You can’t really point fingers at anyone with a glaring lack of talent who was most likely responsible for bringing the ship down. Cameron Diaz can normally charm her way through this sort of comedy with ease. Jason Segel has always been dependable as this exact brand of awkwardness (and even co-wrote the script with his ‘Muppets’/’Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ partner Nick Stoller), and Jake Kasdan has never directed an unfunny comedy before. (Hell, the guy was the primary director on ‘Freaks and Geeks’). It just doesn’t make sense. Perhaps everyone was coasting on the easy concept and thought they could sort out their problems in editing. Maybe the studio got cold feet mid-shoot and demanded changes. Who knows? Regardless, the final product just might be the worst project that everyone involved has ever produced. Maybe this movie should have been a sexy, silly, all-star Super Bowl ad for iPads instead. At least that way all of the product placement would have made sense.