by Hope Madden
With two kids, a job and a blog to handle, Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) have almost forgotten what it’s like to spend some quality time alone, so they decide to over-correct that situation by making their own sex tape. You know, kind of spice things up, put some pizzazz back into their marriage.
As seems to be the case generally, the sex tape turns out to be a bad idea, and the next thing you know, they are trying to retrieve the footage before it goes viral.
Segel and regular writing collaborator Nicholas Stoller penned this ode to poor decision making with Kate Angelo (The Back-up Plan), and among them they can’t decide on a reasonable tone any more effectively than they can muster enough jokes to keep 98 minutes of comedy afloat.
Director Jake Kasdan (Walk Hard) wants badly for the film to be simultaneously a raunchy comedy and hip-but-earnest love story – an unusual combination so perfectly realized earlier this year with the Stoller-helmed Neighbors. But where Neighbors burst with inspired visuals, unexpected comedic chemistry, generous writing and frenetic humor, Sex Tape just sits there, flaccid.
The pace is leaden, the laughs scarce and scattered. The film’s prevailing, toothless humor leaves writers and actors alike falling back on foul language whenever they lack an actual punchline.
Though Segel and Diaz – both comedic talents – make an effort, they are forced to work too hard to create momentum. Their relationship – the love, the squabbles, the tension over the tape mix up – rings false, giving the comedy no grounding.
Potentially interesting characters pop up and vanish, though the diversion is sorely needed. Worse still, in the one supporting character with any screen time, reliably hilarious Rob Corddry is hamstrung in a best friend role allowed only a single, weakly recurring gag.
Rob Lowe flails, though valiantly, with an over-the-top character that never meshes with the film’s internal reality and feels like part of a set of tacked on bits from another film entirely.
A pretty big disappointment, given the talent in front of and behind the camera.