Why isn’t Sex Tape funnier? Why does it aim for guttural, sleazeball laughs and end up delivering elementary school snickers? Indeed, pre-adolescents and anyone else with an equally juvenile sense of humor might giggle at the escapades of aging marrieds Jay (Jason Segal) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) as they discuss F-ing, S-ing, and all other manner of multi-syllabic smut, but for the rest of the audience, the end result will be as limp as our male lead’s… you know what. Indeed, this horrid misfire, mangling a decent idea with forced farce elements, feels more high concept than well conceived, a bankable title looking for a story to support its summer season release. Sadly, no one discovered one before shooting started.
After years of easy friskiness, Jay and Annie believe the spark has gone out of their love life. Saddled with two precocious kids and a life geared almost solely around the little ones, they just can’t seem to find time to fornicate. When a blog that she writes is sold to a toy company, they decide to “celebrate,” and let’s just say that things don’t go so well. Annie decides to spice things up with some homemade porn, and before you know it, Jay is setting up the iPad to capture their recreation of “every position” in the fabled Joy of Sex book.
Of course, once completed, the video gets uploaded onto “the Cloud” and soon everyone who Jay ever gave a tablet device to (it’s complicated) has access to their private naughtiness. Our couple then spends the next day trying feverishly to gain access to all these iPads, including ones given to BFFs Robbie (Rob Corddry) and Tess (Ellie Kemper) as well as the straight-laced CEO (Rob Lowe) of the conglomerate interested in Annie’s “wholesome” Internet writings.
The problem with Sex Tape is obvious from the first few minutes we see this couple onscreen. It is clear that Jay and Annie’s entire courtship was built around boots knocking, and little else. The whole opening sequence is about their screwing in every conceivable place and way possible. Since that’s how we identify with them, the moment this montage stops, we are stuck wondering just who these people are. Annie is given the blog angle, but Jay is never really defined. He seems to work in the music biz (we see him talking to people about same at a radio station) but that’s about it and they have a really nice suburban life outside LA including two towheaded wee ones and a collection of cliches who act as friends.
So why should we care that they could be exposed as being normal, healthy, sexually active adults? Well, because, the connotation of a “sex tape” means that Jay and Annie are dirty, naughty, or any other plausible Puritanical response to nature and biology. And this is supposed to make us laugh. Really. As they argue about leg placement and “erectile dysfunction,” the single digit IQ approach to the material shows through… and it only gets worse once the madcap dash to reclaim the iPads takes off. By the time we get to Lowe’s opulent mansion, and the major shift in tone that occurs there, director Jake Kasdan has lost us. We no longer care if Jay and Annie get their reputation back. We just want the stupidity to stop.
There are some decent moments scattered throughout this otherwise awful film, including a last-act cameo by an actor who seems perfectly suited for the role he’s been given. As a matter of fact, a film about his sex-act based story alone would be a helluva lot more fun and interesting than the meandering mess we have here. Everyone involved should be ashamed of this unfunny effort. The title Sex Tape may “sell” itself, but the final result is a haphazard, humiliating experience.