We must all start somewhere. For director Jake Kasdan, the perilous journey from comedy shlock peddler to capable Jumanji franchise helmsman is one of encouragement. To go as low as Sex Tape, a Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel vehicle, up to the dizzying, mediocre heights of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in just three years is a proud achievement. Not quite Due Date to Green Book, but worth a try. Or not. In fact, Sex Tape is not worth anything whatsoever. It is not worth the disc it was printed on, the box it was shipped to me in, or the time it took for me to articulate a running commentary on a film that felt half an hour too long when, at best, it is an hour and twenty.
Struggling to adapt these modern romantic tendencies to this script, Diaz and Kasdan collaborate once again for no particular reason. Their dependency on one another comes from the name value of the on-screen personality and the off-screen director using said value to boost himself higher and higher. At least half of that worked, and both are happy. I’d probably be happier if I hung up my flagging profession to start making wine. Diaz and Segel have some degree of chemistry with one another. It is not enough to carry the horrific burden of Segel, Nicholas Stoler and Kate Angelo’s script, but they do the best they can.
What becomes clear about Sex Tape is that not only is it going to rely on the bodies of their leading characters, but it is also going to rely on caricatures. Obsessed with one another, attractive characters find themselves with professions that afford them unlimited free time, or, rather, conventional time to spend with one another. What a happy coincidence. It is these happenstance moments that drive Segel and Diaz. They joke with one another as their classical blunders put pasture to the idea of true love. How clinical and experienced and just truly, truly dull this is. With the set-up, comedy, now more than ever, needs to feel unpredictable. Even if the punchline is something we have heard and seen all before, the joke now comes from the opening, rather than the closure. Sex Tape doesn’t get the memo, and its set-up feels dated and uninteresting. Jokes are easy to spot and hard to laugh at.
Sex comedies died a prolonged death when American Pie ran out of ideas. For such a series, it ran out halfway through the first film. For Sex Tape, its one, titular joke runs out almost immediately. Sex-crazed lunatics straddle each other to oblivion in a not-quite contemptible comedy. It is flatlining, insulting and poorly put together, but Segel and Diaz are always and will forever be, likeable. Even if their films are not. Spicing their lives up in the worst way possible, they are looking to rekindle that spark. Who cares? That is the honest question that springs to mind. Attractive, suburban Americans who have an imperceptible amount of cash and a lavish lifestyle have relationship troubles played up for comedic effect. Well, that’s the usual route, isn’t it? It’s just one that Sex Tape careers off of incredibly swiftly.