I have an idea of what to do if the basic idea behind the pitilessly bad R-rated comedy “Sex Tape” appeals to you.
First of all, I don’t blame you for your piqued interest. You have no doubt seen the ads on TV, by now, and know the movie’s setup. Married couple Jay and Annie, played by co-writer Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, were once sex-crazed kids before marriage but have long since noticed that the amount of sex they have now is inversely proportional to their commitments to work and two adorable and busy grade-school kids.
Jay and Annie’s cure for the recycled adult chastity of upper-middle class suburban success is to make a sex tape with one of the iPads radio exec Jay has bought to generously give away his expanding and on-demand music playlist. What they do then is perform in front of their iPad, over a three-hour period, every sex act in the 1970’s best-seller “Joy of Sex,” sans ’70s body hair.
Unfortunately, doofus Jay, instead of destroying the recording at his wife’s request, accidentally gives it away on all of the iPads where he only meant to charm people with his music playlist.
What to do, what to do?
So far, so good. There’s a sex farce in there somewhere, in elemental form. This near-calamity isn’t it, not by a long shot, but the comedy idea we can generously admit is solid.
That’s why I thought of an alternative to the movie about a third of the way through it.
Instead of actually seeing the thing, which is a dreary and minimally entertaining experience, invite your smartest, funniest and least verbally inhibited friends over for a “Sex Tape” script conference party.
Start with the premise of Segel, Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller’s tedious and crummy script and come up with your own movie ideas – scenes to include, themes to explore, dialogue to make the film entertaining.
Remember, it all has to fit into an R-rated movie. Go to NC-17 and it’s an entirely different sort of party.
Here are two ideas I had:
1) The movie desperately needs a majestic and older authority figure, someone to play Sir John Gielgud to doofus Jay and Annie’s Dudley Moore, a la “Arthur.” That way, you’d have a withering, shriveling stream of wisecracks possible every five minutes, a voice of wisdom spritzing funny reality over the idiot principals’ social frenzy.
2) Use the “Joy of Sex” idea and take off with it. What it, and similar texts from its era, did in its time was transform sex from an art into an Olympic sport dependent on technique. And that led to people thinking they were far better at all the different exertions involved than they actually were – all leading, of course, to their trumpeted superiority over lesser mammals whose idea of it all skewed more toward art than sport.
Get into that, and all the swelled egos ensuing.
Those are just a couple of my ideas. Feel free to invent your own. And if an amateur theatrical results from it, who am I to judge?
I assure you, though, such a party would be vastly better than the film, which has its moments, to be sure, but spends the long periods between those sparse moments annoying the living daylights out of you.
Most of it isn’t just unfunny, but aggressively so.
Give Segel and Diaz credit for jumping into this embarrassing comedy of embarrassment with both feet and giving it their all. You know, though, that cutesiness has smothered most of the film’s raunchier possibilities when the only way Diaz could think of to sell the thing was to go on every talk and infotainment show that would have her and inform the world that “Sex Tape” contains a couple inches of her anatomy no one has ever seen before.
Yup, there it is, when she turns her back to the camera.
Trust me here. Go for the “Sex Tape” script conference theme party. It’ll be more fun. And a lot more revealing.
1.5 stars (Out of four)
Starring Jason Segel, Cameron Diaz, Rob Lowe, Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper.
Directed by Jake Kasdan. 90 minutes.
Rated R for strong sexual content, nudity, language and some drug use.