Let me go ahead and put this out there. I am not a licensed film critic. So that means I do not get advanced screenings for movies. That also means I have to pay for the movies I see. I do see a lot of movies, but since I have to pay for each one of them, I don’t always see every movie. The movies I tend to stay away from are the ones that get terrible reviews and do not interest me. I still try to see them all, whether it be the blu-ray rental or On Demand. But I don’t watch them in the theater. The reason I say this is because I feel I have not seen enough “bad movies” in 2014 to say that Sex Tape is one of the worst of the year. I just wouldn’t feel fair to say that. So I will just say that out of all the movies I have seen this year, this is indeed one of the worst, if not the worst.
We live in a world where the comedy scene is dominated by Judd Apatow. His films, whether they are directed, written, or produced by him, seem to hit every time. The 40-Year-Old Virgin and Knocked Up, both directed by Apatow, remain comedy classics to this day. Other productions such as the Anchorman movies and Forgetting Sarah Marshall still hold up and are still universally loved. But in this world of Apatow comedies there exists Apatow-like comedies. Comedies that use stars used in Apatow productions to make you think you’re getting quality entertainment. Sex Tape is just that. It takes Jason Segal (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) and places him alongside Cameron Diaz (Bad Teacher) to make a comedy about sex that attempts to be funny but the final product is a giant advertisement of sex (sex sells, right?) and, of course, Apple. Here’s the story. Segal and Diaz play Jay and Annie, a couple that is struggling with their sex life while trying to raise kids and dealing with life’s unavoidable circumstances. But Annie has an idea. How about they record themselves on Jay’s iPad doing the dirty. The problem is, Jay receives iPads regularly due to his musical business and when he’s done with them he hands them to his friends and family. After the porno is finished, you guessed it, it uploads to the Cloud and now downloaded on each of the iPads. The rest of the movie is them tracking down these iPads before the owners see the video. It would be pathetic to even comment on Apple product placement in this movie because it isn’t product placement at all. This entire movie is just one big raunchy ad for the iPad. As a result, the movie comes off as being annoyingly pretentious. I hated it.
And what a waste of Jason Segal. This is a man who proved over and over again he is one of the best talents (whether it be acting or writing) working in comedy today. Movies like the terrific Forgetting Sarah Marshall (which I think the world of, if you couldn’t tell) attest to this, as well as The Muppets, which was a really different role for Segal. Also, let’s not forget about the spectacular indie flick Jeff, Who Lives at Home or even The Five-Year-Engagement, which no one seems to be talking about anymore but definitely should be. So, as you can tell, I love Jason Segal, but this movie is really the first movie of his I can say is awful. Unfortunately, not even he is enough to bring the movie up. It’s not that he gives a bad performance, but the movie is just directed so lazily that it becomes so dull and sloppy. Cameron Diaz, who had a great career start with movies like The Mask and There’s Something About Marry (both of which I really like) has become a true waste of talent in the past few years. Looking back on her filmography, the last movie she’s been in that I would deem is actually good is Shrek 2 back in 2004. That’s ten years, people. Remember how bad The Counselor was last year? Why isn’t Cameron Diaz in good movies? She’s gorgeous as ever here, but completely dull and impossible to root for.
Speaking about being impossible to root for, let’s touch on the script by Kate Angelo. Her writing credits only include one other film, that being The Back-Up Plan, and the rest is TV credits. And wow does it show. This is a truly terrible script, centering on characters that it clearly wants us to care about, but also characters that become so idiotic in their decision making that it is just impossible to even begin rooting for them. There were a few times in this movie where I chuckled. One was a scene involving Rob Lowe’s character. The scene wasn’t funny at all, just one of his lines and the way he delivered it made me laugh. The other involved a scene between characters in a radio studio. But those were chuckles. Not laughs. Note that no chuckles even came because of Segal (once again I’ll say, he’s wasted). Not even a want-to-be-surprisingly-funny cameo at the end made me laugh. Or remotely happy. There is a recurring “threat” throughout this film in the form of an unknown number sending texts to Jay’s phone about having knowledge of the sex tape which, when it is fully realized towards the end, is so predictable and just plain dumb. Also, there’s the dialogue. “You had sex for three hours? That’s the length of the movie Lincoln. You did the full Lincoln.” That is a literal quote from the movie. Apart from the fact that that is a stupid line that is clearly used to reference pop culture media (there is also a terrible reference to Breaking Bad that once again makes the movie seem so pretentious), it isn’t even correct statement. As a film enthusiast, I immediately knew that Lincoln is not a three hour long film. It is 150 minutes. Why didn’t they use The Wolf of Wall Street? Because Kate Angelo doesn’t know what she’s writing about. Pair this terrible script filled with unbelievably stupid characters with director Jake Kasdan, who, mind you, directed Bad Teacher which also featured Diaz and Segal. In that movie, they had reasonable chemistry in a pretty bland movie. What went wrong here? Their characters were written so poorly and their decisions were so doltish, and to top it all off there was just no chemistry. The movie practically opens with them having sex and that is what is supposed to make you latch on to their characters. It just doesn’t work.
Sex Tape is a comedy that is wrong on pretty much every level. There are funny moments that generated a chuckle, but I didn’t actually laugh one time. That is what a comedy is supposed to do. Make me laugh. Neighbors did it. 22 Jump Street really did it. Bad Words did it. And hey, even A Million Ways to Die in the West had me laughing a few times. This is movie directed so lazily and written so poorly that it’s impossible to root for its leads. The humor isn’t funny, the actors are wasted, and all it serves as in the end is a raunchy advertisement for Apple. It’s a massive failure that doesn’t even have admirable intentions.