Here's the thing about the movies and even story telling in general, you need to pick a tone. When you are all over the map, never truly settling on tone it just doesn't work. I won't lie, there were moments where I laughed out loud during "Sex Tape" but there were also far too many that just didn't make all that much sense.
The hardest thing to keep going in any relationship is the passion and for Annie and Jay (Cameron Diaz & Jason Segel) the days when they couldn't keep their hands off of each other have faded as two kids and a busy schedule as caused the passion in their lives to dull. In need of a spark and in the mood to celebrate after Annie strikes a deal to sell her mommy blog to a family friendly conglomerate, they make a date to have sex, but decide to kick it up a notch. Using Jay's new iPad, they make a sex tape where in a three hour session they try every position in the book; The Joy of Sex. The results are a great night that has reignited the passion in their lives, but the mysteries of technology interceded and the video that they were supposed to have deleted has been inadvertently uploaded and shared with all of their friends and family! In one crazy night, Annie and Jay scramble to protect their reputation and make sure that they don't get more exposed then they already have.
I have to own the fact that yes, I laughed, but "Sex Tape" is just so damn uneven that it is never quite sure if it is trying to be a raunchy sex comedy, a married couple comedy or both and ends up feeling like an incredibly flat experience for the bulk of the movie.
Director Jake Kasdan working from a script that is co-written by star Jason Segel leans on some laughable plot points and feels less like a coherient narrative and more like a series of different comedic bits that are held together by the thinnest of plots. Kasdan packs the movie very tightly but it jumps so much in so many random ways like going out of its way to attack Apple computer products which is suspect in and of itself considering how this movie was produced by Sony, and it feels very forced. I'm willing to admit that just might be the syndical S.O.B in me but when you weren't laughing in this movie, you just spent your time wondering why you cared because the amount of elements in this story that just don't make a lick of sense are just kind of staggering. It's three different chapters in a story that barely connect.
While the first act is basically setup, with logic holes like randomly handing out iPads to friends because for some reason Segel's in descript job at a radio station requires him to have as many new iPads as humanly possible, the second act of the film actually works the best even though it is more or less a standalone skit where Segel and Diaz talk their way into the house of Diaz's potential new boss played by Rob Lowe in a fun but throw away role. The entire sequence is basically a gonzo comedy skit where Segel is chased around the house by a German Sheppard and Diaz has to do lines of cocaine and listen to Slayer and DMX with her boss who isn't as reserved as she initial thought. While it embraces the theme of never judging a book by its cover and looking for something a little different to spice up your lives, but it plays out so blandly as the third act is all over the map from hateful to a bit dull as it limps towards the finish line.
Diaz is a brave comedy warrior as she gets nearly naked in this film, not just for thrills but for laughs and it actually works, because even when she telegraphs the line delivery, her in ate comedic charm and timing still make it pretty damn funny. Segel meanwhile has played this likeable everyman just a few too many times and it is getting pretty dull. Unfortunately the comedic weight rests solely on their shoulders as the likes of Rob Corddry, the criminally underused Nat Faxon and Ellie Kemper don't get to do much of anything and even in the third act when it could have turned into a comedic race against time kind of romp like it tries to be, it ends up as terribly vanilla as so much of this movie felt like they wanted to get raunchier but they hedged their bets and held back.
"Sex Tape" is not great, but it feels like more of a curiously paced missed opportunity rather than a flat out stinker.
2 out of 5 stars.
"Sex Tape" is opening in special, select evening screenings tonight and opens wide everywhere on Friday. Please check with your local listings for show times.