You get what you pay for with Sex Tape, if that's matinee prices: a little celebrity skin and recycled wink-wink comedy, teasing without much tickling. Dirty minded yet wholesomely executed, like a 6-year-old retelling a smutty joke he doesn't understand.
Hard to imagine a cuter pair to hold this peep show together than Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel, gamely exposing their backsides and dependency upon better material. This screenplay, co-written by Segel, is a flaccid assortment of restroom wall wit and not-wacky-enough sidekicks, re-explaining everything as it goes along — and this stuff isn't rocket science, people.
Diaz and Segel play Annie and Jay, whose sex life is spectacular until marriage, with two kids literally getting in the way. That is the only thing about Sex Tape that might happen in real life. Otherwise, she's a blogger making a fortune by selling her thoughts to a wholesome conglomerate, and he does something involving a lot of iPads, or else there's no plot.
One of those tablets is used to record Annie's suggestion for spicing up the marriage, a marathon session of every position noted in The Joy of Sex. Making what should be a short story long, Jay accidentally downloads the video to other iPads he gave away as gifts, sparking a frantic night of retrieving each one.
The quest is broadly written, played by Diaz and Segel like flesh-and-blood Muppets in heat, mugging and sputtering to fill gaps where jokes are supposed to be. This is a curiously underwritten comedy, with every gag front and center obvious, with few jokes around the edges except Rob Lowe's latest bit of stealth comedy.
Lowe plays Hank, the corporate mogul buying Annie's blog, a button-down family man urging family values unless his family's out of town. Of all the stretches in Sex Tape, the one taking the movie to Hank's mansion, adorned with paintings of himself in various Disney classics (yes, even Snow White) is most welcome. Blaring Slayer and blowing cocaine, Lowe's performance is a highlight by default, and his own sex tape peccadillo makes it wickedly right.
Sex Tape might've been an enjoyable movie 10 years ago, before we'd heard all the jokes, and Kim Kardashian somehow made amateur porn seamier. Now, it's just an exhausted idea coasting on the charm of its stars. Not so good, unclean fun, if someone else buys the tickets.
Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.