Thursday, July 31, 2014

Sex Tape

SEX TAPE (Jake Kasdan, 2014)

To spice up a love life that’s been dulled by their focus on work and raising two kids Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) decide to record their most intimate moments in SEX TAPE. Jay sets up his iPad to capture them trying out all of the positions in 1970s manual THE JOY OF SEX. After their three-hour lovemaking session Annie tells Jay to delete the video file, but before he gets around to doing so, an app syncs their dirty home movie to all of his devices.

Jay’s error of procrastination wouldn’t be so problematic if he didn’t hand out his old iPads like Christmas cards. Friends, family, and acquaintances, including the mailman and toy company CEO Hank (Rob Lowe), who’s considering buying Annie’s mommy blog, possess tablet computers with access to their sex tape. When Jay receives an anonymous text commenting on their video, he realizes that it is no longer private. Mortified at the thought of who might see the video, Jay and Annie scramble to collect the iPads and delete the file before the current owners discover it.

SEX TAPE sets out to mine the main couple’s humiliation for laughs and to consider the stresses on a marriage that can lead to a loss of closeness, yet it does neither particularly well. Annie and Jay’s embarrassing predicament seemingly puts them in awkward interpersonal situations, but instead of using cringe comedy to explore how the video changes the dynamics in facing people they know, Segel, Nicholas Stoller, and Kate Angelo’s screenplay gets bogged down in a plot-intensive hunt for the devices. The distractions Annie and Jay concoct and obstacles they encounter while searching for the iPads keep things broad and safe while avoiding the sensitive relationship stuff that is the film’s most logical source of humor. Aside from one scene in which their friends Robby and Tess (Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper) fess up to viewing the sex tape, Annie and Jay’s panic is rooted in envisioning what-if scenarios than confronting the consequences of the file being distributed.

Early on SEX TAPE addresses the daily grind that can put distance between a husband and wife, suggesting that it might use humor to say something about how work and parenting obligations in modern life challenge marriages. Unlike NEIGHBORS, which finds comedic potential in new parents’ worries of losing their youthful edge, SEX TAPE introduces its thematic hook and ignores it until a pat resolution about how the experience lets Annie and Jay rediscover one another. Like an insecure adolescent bragging about falsified sexual experiences, the film uses frank vulgarity about adult situations while seeming juvenile.

SEX TAPE requires granting it a lot of latitude regarding the protagonists’ limited technological savvy, especially when taking their dimly illuminated web-based professions into account. Although the film’s idiot plot undermines its credibility, it makes some humorous observations about how today’s computers are treated as mystical objects worthy of being worshiped and feared. Our pockets hold devices capable of answering any vocalized question, no matter how silly, and sowing the seeds of our ruin if misused, whether by accident or ignorance.

Grade: C-

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