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Movie Review: 'Sex Tape' (2014)

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It starts immediately with simulated intercourse, conspicuously partial nudity from Diaz (who likely has a “no actual nudity” clause in her contract, though a nonetheless impressive figure for 42) and Segel, and voyeurism from a random passerby. Audiences are further subjected to a sex montage, where the lead characters demonstrate their ardor for copulation in various locales, such as the shower, a public library, or in a park. Their physical demonstrations of love are spontaneous, wild, and constant. This audacious introduction isn’t particularly unique (or stimulating), nor is it as crazily indecent as the filmmakers probably aspired it to be, instead feeling a lot like desperation for two roles that are, comparably, not as funny or sexy as they hoped.

Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) have had a ferociously sexual relationship leading up to their marriage and two children, but their nighttime rendezvouses have since then almost completely fizzled. Despite numerous attempts at scheduled intimacy meetings and genuine interest in initiating a lovemaking session, they just can’t seem to pull it off. When Annie’s blog gains a possible buyer in the form of the Piper Bros. Company, she decides to commemorate the felicitous opportunity with an evening of celebratory eroticism. Jay’s handy new iPad sparks the idea of filming an amateur porno; with the book “The Joy of Sex” nearby, the couple proceeds to record a three-hour tutorial in which they enact every position illustrated in the manual.

The main predicament arrives in the form of Jay’s failure to promptly delete the video. His auto-syncing program uploads the uncensored cut to his many other, older iPads, which he has given away over the years (as he regularly purchases replacements every time upgrades are available). Horrified, the flummoxed duo attempt to track down all the devices, which now reside with friends, relatives, and even the mailman. When they scheme to steal back an iPad from Hank (Rob Lowe), the CEO of Piper Bros., “Sex Tape” reveals that the basic premise isn’t really what drives the misadventures. From engaging in violent slapstick with a German Shepherd to peer-pressure participation with narcotics to bizarre Disney-themed commissioned paintings, it’s obvious that the laughs and situational comedy aren’t based solely on furthering the story – or even grounded in realism. Instead, whatever inconsequential sketch seemed riotous while scripting became a fully realized scene, unsystematically structured into a pseudo road trip concept.

It’s bad enough that overused elements like unreasonably intelligent kids, frankly vulgar dialogue, unfiltered insults directed at toddlers, and awkward physical interactions replace truly creative humor. But there are simply not enough amusing moments to fill even the brief 94-minute running time. Supporting characters are present only for brief one-liner jokes (comedians Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper play the best friends), an eventual blackmail subplot is mean-spirited and unbelievable, and the climax and conclusion are absolutely nonsensical. The film tries to impart a message of the importance of sustaining marital passion – and that the internet porn community gets a bad rap – but an apology, a declaration of love, and the revelations of appreciable inner qualities represent the easy way out. No resolution is given for possibly facetious monetary fines, a destructively sociopathic youngster, or even the continuance of newfound libidos.

- The Massie Twins (GoneWithTheTwins.com)

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