Review: ‘Sex Tape’ is Clever But Can’t Keep It Up

Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz in the 2014 film “Sex Tape,” directed by Jake Kasdan.
Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz in the 2014 film “Sex Tape,” directed by Jake Kasdan.
Claire Folger

“Sex Tape,” the latest R-rated comedy from director Jake Kasdan, is surprisingly tame despite touting a timely and provocative premise.

The film is never quite as dirty or raunchy as it wishes it was, suffering mostly from a neutered and lazily written script (penned by Kate Angelo, Jason Segel, and Nicholas Stoller). However, there are enough funny moments to keep audiences laughing throughout this mostly humorous summertime flick.

“Sex Tape” follows Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Segel), a couple that bumped uglies constantly in college, but is now in a sexless rut thanks to two kids and over a decade of marriage. In an attempt to rekindle their flames beneath the sheets, Annie, a mommy blogger, suggests they make a homemade porno, which turns into a three-hour affair inspired by positions in “The Joy of Sex.”

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Not heeding his wife’s wishes, Segel’s character, of course, forgets to erase the naughty video. Instead, he accidently uploads the steamy clip to the numerous iPads he’s given out as gifts to friends, which happen to have Jay’s entire library of songs and videos on them thanks to a file sharing application.

The technologically-inept couple, aided by their married friends (Ellie Kemper and Rob Corddry), pull an all-nighter as they race around town trying to reclaim all of the iPads containing the explicit video.

While there are plenty of laughs in “Sex Tape,” the script relies a little too much on Apple jokes (we get it, Siri never works), and loses steam toward the final act. It just barely earns an R-rating thanks to a few too many f-bombs and ass shots, the lack of which would have easily made this film PG-13 worthy.

In a world where millions of people tune in every week to see the latest crazy sex scene in “Game of Thrones,” it’s surprising how shy “Sex Tape” is when it comes to showing skin. The film could have taken lessons from other comedies such as “Zack and Miri Make a Porno” or “The 40-Year-Old Virgin” on how to balance raunchiness with humor.

Kasdan’s latest outing isn’t a total dud. It’s actually pretty funny for most of the opening two-thirds.

Segel’s physical humor is on point, especially in the scene where he faces down an angry German shepherd. Watching the dog outwit Jay at every turn was hilarious to see on screen.

Diaz isn’t that bad either, bringing a bubbly energy to her character. She’s shown her comedy chops over the years in flicks such as“Bad Teacher” (also directed by Kasdan), and her timing is quite good in “Sex Tape.”

Rob Lowe — who ironically had his own sex tape scandal in the 1980s — is hilariously weird as the CEO of a wholesome company that wants to buy Annie’s blog. He’s a scene stealer and is criminally underused in this film.

There’s also a great cameo by a certain comedic actor who does just a fantastic job as the skeevy owner of a porn website.

“Sex Tape” may be hindered by a script that doesn’t really push any boundaries, but it’s still a fun flick suited for date night couples—kind of like Annie and Jay, who could use an escape from the ritual of their relationship, if only for a couple hours.