'Sex Tape': What the Critics Are Saying
Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel star as a husband and wife whose sex life has gone stale in Sex Tape, out on Friday. The film follows their characters, Annie and Jay, respectively, as they try to "get it back."
In an attempt to find their lost libidos, the couple embarks upon a three-hour odyssey to conquer and record every move described in Alex Comfort's book, The Joy of Sex, but they are then faced with a new dilemma: their "sex tape" has synced to the cloud, subsequently uploading onto numerous iPads that Jay has (of course) distributed as gifts to friends.
The R-rated comedy — directed by Jake Kasdan and written by Segel, Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller — is expected to gross around $30 million in its North American debut.
Read what top critics are saying about Sex Tape:
The Hollywood Reporter's chief film critic Todd McCarthy refers to the film as "sexcruciating" — an "ineptly directed, preposterously plotted raunchfest." McCarthy adds, "This high-concept, low-brow comedy about a couple whose homemade sex video threatens to get out there for the world to see is mostly about what's below the belt, but also seems to want to be family-friendly in a perverse sort of way. The film's one-joke nature makes it an easy sell for Sony, but director Kasdan never finds the right tone or, um, rhythm for an intimate encounter you increasingly wish could just be a quickie." Moreover, he says, "The technological aspects of this setup have already been attacked as bogus by those who claim to know about such things. Should one of these experts have shown up at the couple's door at this point, the film could have ended there and we would have already seen all the juicy stuff."
The New York Times' A.O. Scott compares Segel and Diaz to "foul-mouthed, anatomically detailed Muppets," producing humor that "has no bite." Scott tells audiences not to expect much from Sex Tape: "Don’t get your hopes up. Or maybe I should say don’t worry. Because in spite of a title that evokes everything tawdry and salacious in contemporary online culture (at least circa 2007), in spite of a steady cascade of obscene language, and in spite of a naked buttock here and there, Sex Tape is as wholesome as a spoonful of nonfat Greek yogurt. If you are expecting a movie that finds humor in squirming embarrassment and that touches modern anxieties about the loss of privacy and the technological exploitation of the libido, you might be disappointed. But then again, maybe you’d just prefer to stay home with your laptop in the first place, doing research."
The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern calls the movie a "misfire" that may not represent the "death of comedy," but something close to it. "Instead of soft core, Sex Tape offers no core," Morgenstern writes. "No narrative core, just a not-bad notion executed execrably; no core of conviction, just two stars trudging joylessly through swamps of mediocrity. Diaz and Segel last played together in the smarmy Bad Teacher, which was directed with uncommon coarseness by Kasdan. Now the three are back in an almost mirthless farce about a husband and wife who memorialize themselves having sex, then frantically seek to retrieve the evidence when it threatens to go viral."
USA Today critic Claudia Puig gives Sex Tape half a star, and adds that although the concept and casting aren't bad, the film's biggest pitfall is its poor script. She says: "For those with a voyeuristic desire to gaze upon Diaz's well-toned body or Segel's slimmed-down physique, such glimpses might be worth the price of admission to Sex Tape. But viewers seeking a fresh comedy, a seductive romp or even just an escape from boredom for a couple hours will be left dismally unsatisfied by this stilted, nearly humorless, non-titillating slog. ... The booty shots are there; if only the laughs in this tone-deaf comedy surfaced as often." Puig also laments Segel's flat performance: "The only thing duller than watching this movie is focusing on the excruciatingly bored expression on Segel's face. If he's that disconnected, how can audiences be expected to put in the effort? Sex Tape deserves to be recorded over."
Time's Richard Corliss warns viewers "Don't dare watch this Sex Tape" in his review. As Morgenstern does, Corliss says the film is proof that "the homemade porn industry may be thriving, but the romantic comedy is nearly extinct." Corliss addresses new cultural norms, like the outbreak of less conventional relationships and the prevalence of pornography, as causes of these "perilous times for one of Hollywood's richest and most reliable genres." He complains that "Sex Tape doesn’t fall off the cliff of competence so much as it executes a slow, agonized mudslide of failed intentions. Your watch tells you that the film lasts 95 minutes; your sinking spirit says it’s at least as long as Jay and Annie’s porn epic — without the redeeming prurient interest. It’s a sex comedy about love. And that’s the oddest element of this latest demonstration that the romantic comedy is a fatally endangered species."