Cameron Diaz is someone that must be so, SO depressing for many middle-aged women. Bursting onto the screen like a shimmering vision of hotness in “The Mask” when only 21 she then appeared as a highly believable high-school student 4 years later in “There’s Something about Mary”. Now SIXTEEN years after that in “Sex Tape” the 42-year old Diaz again plays – in a flashback scene – her character Annie as a semi-naked college student – still with a gravity-defying body that seems to refuse to age. There IS something about Diaz!
Sex Tape taps into the general truism that “nobody understand The Cloud” with a storyline that is, I believe, quite novel. Married couple Annie and Jay (Diaz and Jason Segel), generally battered by life and parenthood, try to revive their flagging sex-life by making a home-made porn movie on Jay’s new iPad. This private adventure in movie-making is meant to be deleted immediately afterwards: easy come, easy trash. Unfortunately this is where the Cloud steps in, since the new iPad synchronises all new music and videos to storage in the Cloud using an app delightfully called ‘Frankensynch’. However it then simultaneously also synchs the material down to all Jay’s previously owned iPads. For reasons of utter geekdom, and showing far too much of the excess of American consumerism, Jay gets each and every new model of iPad that comes out which means there are a significant number of old models that have been gifted to friends, family and business associates of the couple.
This modern and topical set-up leads to scenes of classic farce as Annie and Jay desperately try to retrieve all copies of the video before it can destroy their reputation and particularly the hopes of selling Annie’s squeaky-clean ‘motherhood’ blog to the equally squeaky-clean ‘Piper Brothers’ corporation, headed by Hank Rosenbaum (Rob Lowe).
The film should be commended for the premise of its novel story by Kate Angelo. However, in terms of the screenplay and the execution by director Jake Kasdan (“Bad Teacher”), the movie is extremely lumpy and uneven.
True that there are some laugh-out loud moments in the film. One in particular with an Alsatian and iPhone’s ‘Siri’ – whilst strongly plagiarising similar scenes in “Something about Mary” and “Father of the Bride” – is still a crackingly funny sequence. However other parts of the film are weighed down with tediously lengthy dialogue between Annie and Jay about the meaning of love and sex in their relationship and these just seems to kill the momentum of both the film and the comedy. The scene outside Rosenbaum’s house is a case in point. In addition, the character U-turn by Harrison Holzer’s Howard and the whole scene at the internet IT shop – with Jack Black, the friendly face of porn – is lame and nonsensical.
Diaz, having fully demonstrated her comedic talents throughout her career, is great in this film and Segel has his moments, although is perhaps a bit of an acquired taste. Rob Corddry (“Hot Tub Time Machine”) and Ellie Kemper (“The (US) Office”) are also very funny as the best friends brought into the secret and suitably spicing up their own sex life as a result.
But once again (as in “Behind the Candelabra”) it is Rob Lowe who steals the show as the outrageously ego-centric and manic Rosenbaum. The paintings around his house depicting himself inserted into classic Disney scenes are hilarious: I’d pay to see a sequel of “Meet the Rosenbaums”.
As you might guess from the title, the film is very rude with a good deal of nudity, sex and bad language. But more disturbing to me was the casual encouragement to partake in hard drugs (cocaine in this case), depicted as both ‘cool’ and something that the lead character Annie would “like to try again”. I have never taken drugs, and never intend to, which probably puts me in a minority of the population these days! But unless films are based around drug use/taking and display the negative and destructive sides of their use, my firm view is that they should NOT appear in films in such a trivialising manner. Drugs destoy lives. The fact that this film only has a (UK) certification of ’15’ I find staggering: censors… just say “no”.
In summary: great concept, with great potential, but poorly executed.
Fad Rating: FF.
(Note: the trailer below is the Red Band version):