It’s in the nature of film comedy to stretch the believability of their premises to the breaking point (“Hangover” trilogy, I’m looking in your direction). And it’s in the nature of comedy audiences to be more forgiving of shoddy storytelling or dubious plot developments, as long as the laughs reward the loyalty. “Sex Tape” takes that loophole and runs amuck with it.
Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz play Jay and Annie, a married couple whose blissful courtship days of wild sexual abandon have given way to the blunt reality of hectic parenthood. In an effort to re-capture their ugly-bumping mojo, they make a video recording of a single night’s marathon journey through all of the sexual positions in the book “The Joy of Sex.”
But the recording gets inadvertently released to a group of friends and acquaintances, including their best friends (Elle Kemper and Rob Cordry) and Annie’s potential new boss (Rob Lowe), a toy company executive who wants to buy Annie’s motherhood blog. Jay and Annie’s night becomes a chaotic journey to retrieve the recordings and save both their self-respect and their marriage. Jack Black also makes an appearance as a surprisingly perceptive internet porn mogul.
In short order, “Sex Tape” digs a very deep hole for itself in the believability department, and the script by Segel, Nicholas Stoller and Kate Angelo never generates the kind of laughs that make you forget it. The plot speed bumps arise often enough that you’re regularly pulled out of the movie, feeling like you’re being played somehow. Why again does Jay need all those iPads? Is digital music synching really so challenging? Are 11-inch dildos really so floppy?
Segel plays a slight variation on the glassy-eyed doofus he’s crafted in nine seasons of “How I Met Your Mother,” and while his character does little that seems believable, he and Diaz at least dig into the skin-baring crudeness of the script with an admirable energy. Lowe also plays a variant on his best-known TV role (the intensely genial city manager in “Parks and Recreation”), and the copyright- infringing self-portraits hanging in his mansion are the movie’s best, most unexpected gag.
A few other moments work well (I liked the list of rival porn sites Black’s crew delivers), but the rest of “Sex Tape” never approaches the paintings’ level of inspired loopiness, and even the reveal of those artworks is bracketed by a mis-judged man vs. dog chase sequence that grows tiresome long before it plays out. Director Jake Kasdan reaches for R-rated outrageousness but hedges his bets with a dollop of sugary resolution, and by the time we get to its limp finale, “Sex Tape” has lost its way and its nerve.
The Blu-ray of “Sex Tape” is presented in 1080p High Definition, in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Picture quality is fine, no visible problems, which is especially rewarding in the scenes where you get to see Diaz’s full moon rising. There are subtitle options for English, English SDH, French, and Spanish. Code for a digital Ultraviolet copy is included.
The audio track is 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, and there are options for audio description tracks in English, French and Spanish
On the DVD and Blu-ray discs:
- “Capturing The Moment”—a not-bad promotional video with cast interviews and behind the scenes footage
- “Meet Hank Rosenbaum” – a humorous close-up tour of Hank’s home art collection, hosted by Hank himself (Rob Lowe)
On the Blu-ray only:
- A blooper reel
- A set of deleted and extended scenes that aren’t necessary viewing.
- “Line-O-Rama” – a set of deleted takes of improvs by various cast members. It’s worth a look.
- “Romance Reboot with Dr. Jenn Berman” – a real-life sex therapist (as seen on VH-1!) talks about the real-life problems of keeping the sexual fires burning in a marriage
A film that could use some, uh, enhancement, “Sex Tape” is a flaccid subject that tries hard but can’t deliver the goods in the clinch.