[Screen It]


(2014) (Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel) (R)

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Comedy: A married couple must contend with the sex tape they've made accidentally ending up on their friends and others' computer tablets and then the Internet.
Annie (CAMERON DIAZ) is an Internet blogger whose work -- including talking about how her sex life with husband Jay (JASON SEGEL) has diminished over time and with two kids -- has become so popular that a big corporation run by Hank (ROB LOWE) -- wants to buy it and keep her on as the head writer. When she arranges for a night alone with Jay, their lack of practice results in the inability to have sex, leaving both of them dismayed. She then comes up with the idea that perhaps making a sex tape -- to be recorded on his iPad -- might reinvigorate their bedroom passion. Using "The Joy of Sex" as their inspiration, they proceed to record three hours worth of trying out every position.

Unfortunately for them, he opts not to erase the recording as she asked and it automatically synchs up with older iPads that he's given to family and friends, as well as the one that Annie gave to Hank for her presentation. When they get an anonymous text that the sex tape has been seen, they realize they must get back all of those iPads, starting with the one they gave to their married friends, Robby (ROB CORDDRY) and Tess (ELLIE KEMPER). They then try to retrieve the one from Hank, unaware that Robby's teenage son has further complicated their lives by uploading the recording to a porn site.

OUR TAKE: 3.5 out of 10
I'm certainly no expert on the matter as I've never made nor had any desire to create let alone star in such a production, but it seems there are four ways a so-called sex tape makes it out into the public. One is via dual consent purpose where the involved couple are exhibitionists of sorts and want others to see their wares, and desire some sort of fame or notoriety (think of any number of famous people whose "private" recordings have somehow "accidentally" made it into the public eye).

The second involves some sort of revenge ploy where one spiteful half of a couple decides to embarrass the other by posting their private material for everyone to see. The third involves amateur/wannabe porn stars who try to create their own version of what used to be called "stag films" so long ago. And finally there are those who make such films for private use, only to have them unintentionally distributed to one or more people solely by accident, such as picking the wrong computer file to upload to some sort of sharing site.

It's a version of the latter category -- already debunked by the involved computer manufacturer -- that serves as the catalyst for intended naughty comedy in "Sex Tape." Beyond the fact that no such actual physical tape is used by pretty much anyone anymore, the story here -- penned by Kate Angelo and Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller-- is that Cameron Diaz and Segel play a married couple whose sex life is kaput for a variety of reasons (kids, busy schedules, being tired, and simply being married for a number of years). We know this because she's a blogger and her writings (accompanied by her voice-over narration of such wording) bring about a number of flashback scenes where the two college lovers went at it like amphetamine-fueled rabbits, only to have that taper off significantly once one kid and then another came along.

In hopes of spicing things up, she suggests they make a "sex tape" and selects the old 1970s era sex guide "The Joy of Sex" as their inspiration and story outline for what will appear in their production. After going at it for three hours, she asks him to erase it. But the next day he learns that his iPad automatically synched the recording with all of the iPods he's given to family, friends and even the mailman over the years (no, he's not an Apple employee and thus the number of such devices he's owned and his generosity with giving them away certainly come into question, as does such auto-synching).

With that hard to believe contrivance in place, they then set out to retrieve all of those devices. After throwing their son's out the window and getting one back from her mom, they head off to their friends (Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper) and then to her potential future boss (Rob Lowe), the unlikely recipient of such a tablet and someone who, shock of all shocks, isn't as squeaky clean as his in-office, corporate face would otherwise suggest. They finally end up at a porn site's headquarters where they try to destroy some servers, but end up caught by the owner (an uncredited Jack Black).

This easily could have been a cautionary satire about the pitfalls of sharing -- purposefully or not -- one's personal life on the Internet. Or it could have been an interesting and amusing look at how married couples' sex lives often dry up over the years and how they try to remedy that. In fact, it mostly starts off in that second fashion and makes one wonder where director Jake Kasdan ("Bad Teacher," "Orange County") and his writers might go with the theme and story.

Alas, once the cat is out of the bag, so to speak, it's all supposed to play like a whacky, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe this is happening to us" comedy where the couple is pushed to do things they normally wouldn't (cocaine, anyone, or perhaps some breaking and entering into a porn site's headquarters with the kiddos?), all in the name of damage control.

Unfortunately, while some of the material occasionally generates some sporadic laughs, most of it falls flat on its face. If it's not retreading bits from other films (how many times have you seen something snooping around a house, only to encounter an unhappy dog) or having its stars show repeated rear views of their birthday suits when not engaging in montages of exaggerated sex, the film's resultant complications following the setup aren't particularly inspired, let alone as hilarious as intended and apparently believed by those involved.

I'll admit I chuckled a few times, but once the plot has the recording headed out to the masses, the film loses steam and pretty much lost my interest. While there was potential here, it's mostly squandered, all of which means watching this "Sex Tape" -- which is nearly a full-length ad for the iPad and, later, the YouPorn website -- isn't as interesting or funny as it might have been with a lot of tweaks and rewriting. It rates as a 3.5 out of 10.

Reviewed July 16, 2014 / Posted July 18, 2014

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