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Review: Despite lewd premise, ‘Sex Tape’ is conventional, forgettable comedy

Homemade sex tapes have been around for a while, at least a few decades. But in the past few years, they have become even more prevalent thanks to the ever-increasing advancement and access of technology (mainly the Internet and camera phones, or in this film’s case, iPads). Sex tapes have even been featured in a few movies here and there over the years (my mind is blanking here other than Road Trip), but one has never really been the main focus of a film.

'Sex Tape' lands in theaters this Friday, July 18
Sony Pictures

The new comedy, Sex Tape, as the title clearly indicates, puts the infamous and naughty home entertainment front and center. Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel star as Annie and Jay, a once hot-and-heavy couple who never have time for sex anymore since marriage and kids came along (sound familiar?). So, as you would expect, they decide to spice things up by making a sex tape. But since it is 2014, traditional video cameras are so passé because we have iPads now. Conveniently, through his awesome music-related job, Jay has an endless supply of them, which he in turn gives out as gifts whenever he gets a new one. See where this is going yet? So, there is this thing called the Cloud . . . and well, no one can really explain the Cloud, but their sex tape gets shared to everyone because of it. This leads to a madcap, though kind of abbreviated, late night trip to stop people from watching it. Though for all its shenanigans, the film resolves itself a little too quickly and easily.

Joining Diaz and Segel is a host of supporting comedic talent, including Rob Corddry, Ellie Kemper, Rob Lowe, and a cameo from Jack Black. Though the film is purely Diaz and Segel’s show, Corddry and Kemper are along for the ride as another happy, but sexually frustrated married couple. Lowe and Black’s minor roles are the most outlandish. Lowe stars as Diaz’s seemingly wholesome future boss who has a few naughty secrets of his own, kind while his Parks & Rec character, Chris Traeger, on, well, cocaine. And Black plays the proprietor of a porn website where Annie and Jay’s video is destined to end up unless they can stop it.

Sex Tape is Rated-R and rightfully so (strong sexual content, lots of foul language, and some nudity). Audiences are treated to their fair share of Cameron Diaz (and at times, a body double) and Jason Segel in various stages of undress, mostly from the back. And while Segel’s nudity is, of course, played for laughs, Diaz is pure male teen fantasy. And it is clear, Diaz still has it (can you believe The Mask came out 20 years ago!). It is a bit raunchy at times, but surprisingly not nearly as raunchy as it could have been – or perhaps, should have been. The film plays it safe sometimes as it tries to toe the line between risqué and more conventional comedy, but it falters because of it, coming across as uneven and uncommitted. All said, the film, which I did not have high hopes for, was funnier than I thought it would be, but not enough to make it memorable once I walked out of the theater.

* * out of 5 stars

Sex Tape opens in theaters nationwide on Friday, July 18 and locally at The Theatres at Canal Place, Chalmette Movies, The Grand 14 at Esplanade, and all three AMC Palace theaters (Elmwood 20, Westbank 16, and Clearview 12).


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