Jake Kasdan, you were given a gift the minute Cameron Diaz signed onto Sex Tape. Everyone can’t stop gushing over Jennifer Aniston’s MILF-y good looks, but you better believe there’s STILL something about Mary when she’s wearing her birthday suit. It’s simple science; you can’t hate a movie that exploits such a voluptuous, supple tushy every chance possible, because it’d be like hating Michelangelo’s “David,” Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” or Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Double Down – true beauty can’t be denied.
But, once the overtly sexual Goddess releases you from her hypnotic stare, Sex Tape reveals itself to be nothing more than the astoundingly raunchy charade you bought a ticket hoping for. There are many erotic comedies meant to transcend sexuality and raw, carnal natures, but Kasdan’s latest only lives to poke fun at our lusty desires while making socially inept observations about every man and woman’s worst nightmare – a sexless marriage. “That won’t be us, right honey?” Considering there’s about eighty-five minutes of movie left, I’m going to guess you’re wrong, Ms. Diaz.
On one hand, if you know anything about Kasdan’s previous directorial efforts, then you know he’s capable of achieving spoof comedy gold like Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. His work is representative of the fact that he possesses a strong visual eye for comedy, which compliments his writing nicely: like sweet, drizzled frosting on a Cinnabon. On the other hand, you know Kasdan is also capable of producing generic blandness like Bad Teacher – a classless and misguided workplace “comedy.” The difference between the two boils down to writing credits. As Kasdan gets sole bragging rights for Walk Hard, Bad Teacher belongs to two other dudes. When taking on someone else’s brainchild, like Bad Teacher, Kasdan shies away from his typical style, and it’s like spreading that same frosting on stale meatloaf.
Sex Tape once again brings Kasdan a pre-written story, except these writing credits include names like Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller – two extremely funny men – and television veteran Kate Angelo, which explains why this slapstick skin-flick sits dead center on the Walk Hard/Bad Teacher quality spectrum. While a nonsensical story sends two grown adults on an irresponsible scavenger hunt full of criminal actions, lewd acts, and animal violence, Segel and Stoller channel their inner high school “perviness” to create some riotous moments of closed-door comedy. Do we care that Sex Tape often times feels like an elongated Apple iPad commercial, describing crystal clear pixel quality on the newest version’s camera, or an impenetrable durability? No, because no product placement will trounce Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction fire-sale catalog filmmaking.
Alas, some jokes do fall forcibly flat as it’s typical of R-rated comedies to sometimes become a little too juvenile in their representation, and Sex Tape is no exception. In the wise words of Old School‘s Beanie, “I’m just trying to make a point, Frank. You don’t have to celebrate it.” In this scenario, we are all Beanie, and Sex Tape is Frank – a crude manchild riffing off every dirty word imaginable. While an unexpected cameo creates wonderful laughs during a final showdown of sorts, one misguided bit about pornographic website names exemplifies how beating a comedic dead horse loses steam fast, bombarding the audience with an overload of obscenity without scoring equivalent laughs. Sex Tape goes for broke as far as porno-inspired comedy is concerned, but not every gag can be a Ron Jeremy, and we’re forced to swallow more Bucky Larsons than we’d like.
Diaz and Segel are the headliners of this dirty movie, but it’s Rob Lowe who busts down the door with his massive, hulking, throbbing…confidence. While Parks & Recreation fans will immediately assume their favorite state auditor, Chris Traeger, got a new job as Diaz’s boss, it’s his eventual unraveling that unleashes a wild side of Lowe that outweighs any other comedic bit part I’ve seen this year (so far). Imagine Chris Traeger blasting metal music while railing drugs, and you’ve just conjured Rob Lowe’s finest form. His moments may be short-lived, but we cherish every creepy, Disney-movie-loving second of his hyper life-theories. Sex Tape lures you in with the promise of nudity, but then delivers some of Lowe’s funniest material to date – only highlighting the obvious imbalance of quality and quantity.
The push factor for me exists in the chemistry between Segel and Diaz, who ham certain scenes beyond necessity, but in the spirit of porn actors, maybe it’s all a sleazy homage? Come to think of it, Segel is at his best when acting out a man who can’t act worth a damn himself – what we in the industry like to call “faking it” – and Diaz shows a knack for traversing “bumps” in the road (with her nose), so maybe these two really were channeling the James Deens and Jenna Jamesons of the world! No, I jest, because these exhibitionist warriors put themselves through a lot, especially Segel’s heroic commitment to a brutal dosage of physical comedy, but Diaz is there every step of the way to lift her man’s spirits. These two work on a level that shouldn’t, but it’s this curious pairing that makes a worthwhile on-screen relationship.
Segel and Diaz’s marital stagnation set-up might be contrived, and their foiled sexual attempts are more awkward than charming, but once the couple enter “hunter/gatherer” mode, dynamics beef up enough to root for our sexual pioneers. Sex Tape isn’t just about boring married couples finally getting laid, it’s also about never letting life become a hectic routine full of chaos, sleep-deprivation, and zero motivation. OK, well, it’s mostly about getting laid, but I could sense the faint beating of a sweeter, more sophisticated story hidden under a Mount Everest sized pile of Hustler write-ups.
Sex Tape is a rare comedy where what you see is what you get, showcased by a promotional trailer with a perfectly represented tone in bite-size form. If you chucked at the humor and found each leading character stomachable for two whole minutes, chances are you’re in for a funnier ride than expected. If you made a cheap joke about Sex Tape blowing it’s – you know – far too early, then avoid Kasdan’s latest like a vicious STD. But, for all its cross-eyed orgasms, pale skin, double-sided dildos, and unnecessary broken limbs, Sex Tape – wait for it – “taint” that bad. I admit, it’s about on par with that pun, but still, you could do worse!
I mean, it’s no 1 Night In China, am I right fellas? No? That joke’s just for me?
On a scale of "Kim Kardashian" to "Fred Durst," Sex Tape clocks in at a "Tila Tequila" - meaning, despite being a trashy mess, we still can't peel our eyes away for some reason.