If there’s one thing to be taken away from Sony’s latest theatrical comedy, Sex Tape, starring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, it’s that you probably shouldn’t drink and film—yourself having sex. And if you absolutely must, avoid documenting technically comprehensive acrobatic tutorials with the runtime of Dr. Zhivago. The reason being: someone might see it. Like your boss. Or your parents. Or the mailman. I’m inclined to reserve judgment—since depending on one’s proclivities this may or may not be such a bad thing—but in Jay (Segel) and Annie’s (Diaz) case, it’s a very bad thing.
Annie’s blog about motherhood is in on the verge of being purchased by Hank (Rob Lowe), Chief Executive Officer of Piper Brothers. Hank praises Annie for embodying, in the opinion of his ultra-family-friendly corporation, the ‘ideal mother’—a saintly, chaste creature. Astute readers will here see Annie’s dilemma, opaque and cloudy as it may be, when she and her husband Jay realize their ‘personal time’ was automatically synched via an online cloud to various other devices that Jay so charitably bestowed upon those closest to him: his mother-in-law, his twelve-year-old son, his best friend Rob (Rob Corddry), the mailman and yes, Annie’s boss, Hank. After Jay receives a mysterious text message expressing an unknown sender’s approval of the recording, the couple realizes they have only hours to wipe the devices clean to save their reputations, and, as Sony would have you believe, their very livelihood.
Married right out of college, Jay and Annie laid their way into the foundation of something vaguely resembling a relationship. The first objection viewers might have to this is the visual implausibility of Jason Segel (thirty-four) and Cameron Diaz (forty-one) playing college-aged adolescents. This conspicuous little logic question sets the tone from the opening sequence onwards; it also seemingly takes forever for Jay and Annie to actually make the tape, considering the couple in the back of the theater were, quite impressively, able to make two and a half tapes themselves before the end of the first half.
Jay and Annie’s quest to locate and destroy all extant coital copies leads them on an evening filled with equally ridiculous moments of intra-relational ‘clarity’, where the couple ruminates on why they made the damn tape in the first place. Yet, since their relationship is constructed almost entirely on physical attraction, the night is more revelatory than anything else. At times it seems that if these two thought about sex as much as they profess to, they wouldn’t have time to hold employment, walk in a straight line or even remember each other’s names.
Is Sex Tape funny? At times, very much so—Rob Lowe steals this film. But beyond intermittent episodes of crude, slapstick humor, the story offers little more than the noisy antics of two people whose situation is hardly as dire as they inflate it to be. Even more detrimental is the uncomfortable inclusion of children into this arena—not just on the periphery, but as active players. The head of a major porn website rattling off the litany of his competitors (Youjizz, etc.) in front of a five-year-old is, to me, morally indefensible. Call me old-fashioned.