I’m of the opinion that there is no worse kind of movie than a bad comedy. If you completely fail at everything it takes to make a good drama, a good horror film or a good action flick, you might still be left with a “so bad it’s good”-type creation that could at least be entertaining to watch. But failing at comedy is painful. Witnessing somebody tell a joke that just doesn’t work is a bad experience for all. Witnessing a film that tells jokes that don’t work for 90 minutes is even worse. As such, I can find no reason to recommend you beautiful people the film Sex Tape.
The film features Bad Teacher co-stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel (the latter of which also co-wrote the terrible screenplay) as a couple who, despite their best efforts, have fallen into the slump of marriage and have no spice left in their sex life. To combat this, they decide to make a sex tape, but due to the miracles of modern technology, it ends up on all of their friends’ iPads (the film has a lot of Apple references). Uh-oh!
First things first, that’s an okay pitch for a comedy. Seeing a couple go to desperate lengths to try and erase their private video from the clutches of their friends and the Internet? Maybe it’s not comedy gold, but it’s got potential. Indeed, when Sex Tape sticks to that idea, it has the most success. One extended scene involving the couple trying to retrieve Rob Lowe’s iPad is genuinely pretty funny and got some good laughs out of me.
The problems come when the film tries to do literally anything else. One of the biggest trends in comedy right now is super raunchy R-rated humor, and I have nothing against that. When it works, it really works. But the raunchiness in Sex Tape is vulgarity for the sake of vulgarity. There’s F-bombs dropped in every sentence possible, coming off stilted and unnatural. There’s an uncomfortable amount of shots of Jason Segel’s naked behind. There’s even a joke about a six-year-old sticking her finger up her butt in the first ten minutes of the film. Instead of being funny, it’s just dumb and reeks of the writers trying too hard.
On top of this, I’m aware plot isn’t exactly the largest concern for many comedy writers, but this thing has too many holes to look past easily. The two main characters work at a radio station and run a successful blog, but neither has even a working knowledge of cloud storage. The whole sex tape snafu is caused by Jason Segel’s character giving gifts of iPads to all their friends (and their mailman?); trust me, working in radio does not result in that much disposable income. Characters change from sociopathic nutcases to reasonable human beings from scene to scene. The whole screenplay just feels lazy and lacking thought.
In the end, Sex Tape is a comedy that fails at its only goal: to be funny. Supporting characters Rob Lowe and Rob Corddry try their best with what they’re given, but even Jason Segel seems to know the film’s less than special, acting ham-handedly throughout. There’s just not really an occasion that I could give Sex Tape a recommendation. If you want a good raunchy comedy, 22 Jump Street is out on DVD really soon. If you want to see Segel and Diaz together, watch Bad Teacher. And if you’re really itching to watch a failure of a comedy, I’m genuinely concerned about your decision-making skills.
Zach Johnson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.