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Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sex Tape Review: Overly Sexual, Rude, Vulgar, and Absolutely Hilarious

The raunchy Sex Tape will divide audiences and critics, but who cares?
Sex Tape suggests a growing practice among loving partners: that of making a raunchy testament of their escapades for posterity. But what happens when that evidence gets seen by friends, neighbors, and even the mailman? This is the plot that pits Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) in an effort to secure every iPad gift Jay has given, his record company playlists being the envy of the recipients, but which has also inadvertently spread the video to every device. The reason for the act - termed in the movie as pulling "the full Lincoln" for its three-hour length - stems from the couple's non-existent social life, brought on by the constant demands of their children. The couple has a lot to lose: a burgeoning business relationship between Annie and Hank (Rob Lowe) could end if the iPad she's given to Hank exposes the video, and so the couple sets out to reclaim and wipe the incriminating evidence As the night drags on, Annie and Jay enlist the help of a fellow couple (Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper), leading them all to a night they'll never forget.

Sex Tape contains the requisite swearing and of course the nudity - both Diaz and Segel show their rears off equally - but it's the moments in which the couple find themselves securing the iPads that are the most memorable. A visit to Hank's house reveals his creepy alternative lifestyle, while the appearance of a dastardly plan to upload the video to PornTube launches a plot twist and hilarious cameo. Writers Kate Angelo and Segel leave no stone unturned, even explaining to the audience how such videos could have been remote deleted without the couple having to trek outdoors to do it themselves. I appreciated this addition, as it creates a "WTF" moment that arrives just in time for us tech heads. It also adds another layer to the comedy, demonstrating just how disconnected Jay has become with his technology. Diaz and Segel play off each other quite well, even though there's nearly a 10-year gap between them in real years. We don't get to see such cradle-robbing by women in films these days, and so I wonder if both of our leads were originally destined to portray their roles, instead replacing some other actor after a last-minute bow-out.

But if Sex Tape has any real issue it's the pacing which feels way longer than its 94-minute runtime suggests. The ending seems to arrive many times before actually ending with segments from the wild sex tape, which actually helps the film end on a higher note. Despite this, Director Jake Kasdan lets his cast run outside the borders of the script, turning in several very good ad-libbed scenes including the best one with the previously mentioned cameo. Segel is building an impressive resume of films that span The Muppets to I Love You, Man, reminding us that television actors can find great success in Hollywood. Diaz looks great as she frolics in her birthday suit, but she's also recaptured the comedy of There's Something About Mary without directly repeating that role, her maturity as an actress allowing her to mix over-the-top sex acts with terrific one-liners.

But this isn't a perfect movie, and as I've said there's a pacing problem throughout that probably won't be on anyone's radar except for the critics who are already slaying it. Too bad: for what it is, Sex Tape is a terrific romp through the taboo subject of sex and pornography, subjects that affect every couple as they seek to add spice to their relationship.

In a year with several strong contenders for best comedy - including Neighbors and 22 Jump Street - Sex Tape might be the best of the lot. It's not the most balanced story, but its raunch and general good times streaks ahead of anything I've seen this year. Its wild risk-taking pays off throughout, and will hopefully leave you in stitches as much as it did me. Be warned: this one is not for the chaste.

Sex Tape is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use and has a runtime of 94 minutes.

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