The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
Page copy protected against web site content infringement by Copyscape
Send this page to Twitter!  

THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Sex Tape

The premise of Sex Tape is terrific. No doubt about it. There are two ways to approach it, though, and this film picks the wrong one. Although parts of it are funny, there moments where you may want to beg it not to go in the direction it's going.

Cameron Diaz plays Annie, a “mommy blogger” hoping to sell her blog to a big corporation run by Hank Rosenbaum (Rob Lowe). On the homefront, her marriage to Jay (Jason Segel) has lost its spark. They used to fornicate like rabbits. Now, two children later, they can barely find the time, and when they do, it's not exactly earthshaking. One night, Annie hits on an idea to spice things up, suggesting that she and Jay film themselves acting out every position in The Joy of Sex. He's obviously game for this. Jay promises to delete their awkward recording the next morning but forgets, and it automatically uploads into his “cloud” and onto the iPad of everyone he and Annie have gifted with the device, including family members, close friends, and Hank. The couple then goes on a crazed spree, attempting to get back all the tablets before anyone sees their amateur porn.

That's a modern nightmare, an example of how technology can potentially screw up our lives. Technology and sexuality always seem to go hand-in-hand. The prevalence of fancy cameras on tablets, computers, and cell phones has created phenomenons like sex tapes and sexting. Having a couple experience a glitch that makes their most intimate moment go viral is perhaps a bit far-fetched – but not by much. A master satirist could turn this concept into comedy gold by exploring the awkward union of sex and tech, and showing how a couple like Annie and Jay deal with being put into such an extremely vulnerable position.

Sex Tape is not that movie. It takes the other route, the one that plays like an old-school sitcom. Jay and Annie freak out, then engage in a series of contrived comic situations that involve overwrought hijinks. In short, instead of relatable human beings, they act like ninnies. Nowhere is this more evident than a scene in which they show up at Hank's house, pretending like it's just coincidence. They do that thing only people in movies and on TV shows do, where they stutter and stammer as they improvise a ludicrous on-the-spot explanation for their sudden appearance. The scene goes on to have Jay engaging in battle with Hank's dog, a la Ben Stiller in There's Something About Mary (a much funnier bit, by the way). Pretty much the whole movie is pitched at that level. There's not really any in-depth material on how the couple feels about this breach, beyond their panic that it happened. Everything is just exaggerated mayhem. Sex Tape, directed by Jake Kasdan, does squeeze in a message about the need for mutual appreciation in a marriage. It's all well and good, but also kind of predictable. The things we really want to see these characters deal with - the down-to-earth stuff that might have inspired true hilarity - are in short supply.

There are some laughs scattered here and there, most of them in the first third, when Annie and Jay are hesitantly embracing their new-found exhibitionism. Diaz and Segel, who previously starred together in Bad Teacher, are both game for some raunchy humor (although not as raunchy as you might expect, given the R rating and title), and they share a nice chemistry. Rob Lowe, meanwhile, walks off with the film. We learn that Hank has some distinct peculiarities, which Lowe manages to sell in spite of their bizarreness. Between this film and his role on Parks and Recreation, the actor has shown a serious skill at playing characters whose surface normalcy masks inner quirkiness.

Sex Tape is harmless stuff, the kind of thing you might come across on cable some Sunday afternoon and not turn off. It could have been so much more than that, though. The laughs are intermittent, not consistent, and the central idea is trivialized, not investigated for its full comedy potential. That's kind of a turn-off.

( out of four)

Sex Tape is rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 34 minutes.

Buy a copy of my book, "Straight-Up Blatant: Musings From The Aisle Seat," on sale now at! Paperback and Kindle editions also available at!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.