A married couple with two kids, a nice house and good jobs, Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) have hit a bit of a rut...sexually. Their busy lives don't allow them to have sex much anymore, if at all, both of them exhausted each night. After one particularly disastrous attempt to rekindle things in the bedroom, Annie comes up with an idea. What if they recorded themselves having sex, attempting all the unique positions offered by The Joy of Sex? It works just as they planned...except with one unforeseen consequence. Jay didn't delete the video, their sex tape accidentally uploading to their iPad Cloud. That's not an issue in itself except that Jay has given away a bunch of iPads, and they're all synced up. Now some of their closest friends and families, co-workers and acquaintances are now in possession of Annie and Jay's very intimate sex tape. Can they get all the copies back?
Released this summer, 'Tape' reunites much of the cast and crew from 2011's Bad Teacher. You know what's not so good about that sentence? I thought Bad Teacher was pretty bad to the point it was painful at times. On the other hand, a movie is a movie and a review is a review so I watched it just the same! Director Jake Kasdan works off a script from Segel, Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller, Segel and Stoller also writing the two new Muppet movies and Five-Year Engagement. It's odd to consider the fact that a movie about the evolution of amateur sex tapes can...ya know, exist, but it is. From the celebrity pornos that popped up in the 90s to the more technologically advanced iPad videos of the 2010s, here we sit. The odd part? As bad as I thought the movie looked, it had some potential early on.
Go figure. I didn't expect that either. The formula early is tried and true, the married couple who's been together for years looking to spice things up. Yep, it's the stuff of romantic comedies dating back to the birth of romantic comedies. It works in an odd way though, an early flashback showing Annie and Jay's early parts of their relationship when they had sex all the time, everywhere, anyplace and in lots of different positions. It quickly, and I mean quickly, detours once their sex tape gets uploaded unintentionally to the Cloud. The humor was already physical, but it becomes madcap, screwball physical humor that simply tries too hard. Nothing just breathes, just develops on its own. It's like the cast is defying you NOT to laugh. THESE ARE THE MOMENTS YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO LAUGH! At one point, Segel's Jay actually runs through a mansion from an angry German shepherd and then swears at him. In the meantime, Annie does some cocaine with her boss. Hilarity!
Much like when they co-starred in Bad Teacher, Diaz and Segel do have some legitimate on-screen chemistry. They're good together. They play off each other well, but that script is just so bad. Unfortunately, they just never had a chance to really make something of the story that honestly/truly/for reals has some potential. Oh, and Jason Segel is very comfortable with male nudity. If curious, we see his butt...a lot, and unfortunately not enough of Cameron Diaz. Also look for Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper as Robby and Tess, Annie and Jay's best friends, a fellow married couple and potentially in possession of the missing sex tape. Rob Lowe makes an uncomfortable appearance as Annie's potential new boss. His Direct TV commercials are far funnier than the part here, and that ain't a good thing. And in the uncredited surprise cameo appearance, Jack Black shows up late, potentially holding the key to getting the sex tape back.
What most of my comedy reviews come down to is pretty simple. Did it make me laugh? A stupid story is far from a deal-breaker as long as I laugh, and that's the biggest issue here. I didn't laugh nearly enough. When I did, it was because what I was watching was so unbelievably bad/dumb. Case in point, Jay violently swearing at the passed out German shepherd. Jay falling off a balcony is pretty priceless too. Some of the best moments come late when we do see some of the in-question sex tape. Those are some genuine laughs, but those are in the final minutes of a 94-minute movie. Not a surprising negative review, but just not too good.
Sex Tape (2014): * 1/2/ ****