Film Review: 'Sex Tape'

★★☆☆☆
Sex Tape (2014), the new US comedy from Jake Kasdan, starts off on the front foot with some funny sight gags and its leads fully invested. However, just as it seems the film is going to pick up its pace, it loses its metaphorical erection, and becomes as limp as a Singapore noodle Newly coupled Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) spend their college downtime having sex in almost every room of their university, even the student library. Telling each other that they are not only in love but want to continue their sexual arrangement till death do they part, they're a perfect match. That changes when Annie falls pregnant and the two get married, and soon enough that vital spark in the bedroom is lost.

After numerous failed attempts to "get it back", the solution seems simple: make a sex tape. But technology is a heartless mistress, and soon enough their tape isn't as private as they had first hoped. On paper, the combination of Diaz, Segel and Kasdan would have seemed a sure thing: the three had great success in 2011's Bad Teacher, with the two leads enjoying some great chemistry in their few scenes together. But over a full 90 minutes, their match becomes chemically imbalanced, not helped by the flimsy script, co-written by the usually sharp-witted Segel. Resorting to cheap sex jokes throughout, as well as being a massive advert for Apple and the iCloud (ironically in the news for similar reasons recently), the film never really musters up the laughs or the necessary narrative drive.

Slimmed down to Ryan Gosling-esque proportions (in stature at least, the six-pack still needs some work), it's almost as if someone has recreated Segel with a 2.0 model, removing both his lovable man-curves, as well as his sense of comedic timing. Diaz, meanwhile, continues to perplex: after a string of middling-to-awful comedies (and anyone who has seen this year's excruciating The Other Woman will attest to this), it could be argued that the actress deserves something of a hiatus from using her funny bone. She is a fine comedienne no doubt, but has still to find the kind of material that made her turns in There's Something About Mary (1998) and Being John Malkovich (1999) so memorable. Sadly, Sex Tape is another to add to the list of underwhelming misfires that have plagued her recent efforts.

Nevertheless, there are a few laughs to be had, and the heavyweight duo do try hardest to make it work. It's the support that's the saving grace here - namely the cameos from Jack Black and Rob Lowe - as well as the always-reliable Rob Corddry as the pair's best friend, but all involved deserve more than saggy effort. Another limp, almost laugh-free comedy to add to Diaz's long list of failures, Kasdan's Sex Tape fails to ignite the obvious chemistry between her and the usually solid Segel, himself in possibly his least entertaining performance. There are a few decent moments sporadically sprinkled in here, but on the whole this is one sex tape that should have had a permanent delete.

Scott Davis

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