Some time in the future, audiences will look back on Jake Kasdan‘s Sex Tape and remark that it was “soooo 2014”; jokes about iPads and clouds and USB sticks will no doubt leave a use-by-date on this feature. But perhaps this is the document necessary to mark 2014 on the chronological map. Indeed, could Sex Tape be the You’ve Got Mail for our generation?
Given the film’s frequent sex scenes and gratuitous arse shots—let alone its risqué title, which has forced publicists to re-dub it S** TAPE to ensure it gets past email filters—it probably isn’t the most appropriate candidate for the time vault. Nevertheless, Sex Tape wouldn’t be the worst choice. Sure, the sensation won’t last forever, but it’s good at the time.
For married couple Annie and Jay (Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel), the sensation of sex is little more than a distant memory. With two kids and the stresses of work in their way, there simply isn’t the time and space for the couple to fulfil their libidos. Their solution to spice things up is by making, as the title suggests, a sex tape. This is all well and good, until a series of circumstances—which are very deliberately mentioned in the unsubtle opening scenes—sees their film find its way into the hands of some unintentional recipients.
While there is understandably a lot of sex in this film, the real climax comes in the form of Annie and Jay’s efforts to rectify the situation. Hank (Rob Lowe) stands in their way as an unlikely cocaine-snorting, Slayer-listening CEO, while an aggressive German Shepherd pops out of nowhere to make life difficult for Jay. It’s all a bit farcical and messy, sometimes feeling like another instalment to The Hangover franchise. But there’s enough laughs scattered throughout the spontaneity to make it an enjoyable spectacle.
For a film that could have easily bombed, Sex Tape’s greatest strength lies in its casting. Diaz and Segal each have enough decent comedies under their belt for Sex Tape to not feel like a desperate attention-seeking stunt. Inevitably, some critics may be inclined to attack Diaz for her role in this film, but the 41-year-old still has the sass and sex appeal that made her so popular in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Elsewhere, Rob Corddry is hilarious as Jay’s voyeuristic best friend Robby, while Jack Black makes a trademark Jack Black cameo as a surprisingly profound porn kingpin.
As with all relationship films, particularly those centered on a family, Sex Tape comes packaged with some heart-warming messages about love and affection. They’re a little corny, but do well to effectively frame the constant sex talk in a meaningful way. This subtext could be the final straw for cynics, but the likeable characters and their awkward dilemmas should be enough to please audiences, perhaps even after iPads become redundant.
Sex Tape is in Australian cinemas from 17 July through Sony Pictures.