Sex Tape

Cameron Diaz looks especially good in Sex Tape, from all conceivable angles, but unlike some of her other recent comedy vehicles (Bad Teacher, The Other Woman) this one actually offers laughs, plus a compatible costar in Jason Segel.

For a goofy, R-rated comedy the initial premise is surprisingly credible: a happily married woman writes a “mommy blog” and wistfully remembers how she and her husband used to have great sex, all the time, until parenthood took the spark (and opportunity) out of their lives. One night, with their two kids away at Grandma’s house, they try to rekindle that magic. Nothing seems to work until he proposes that they video themselves enacting every position described in Alex Comfort’s book The Joy of Sex. Unfortunately, he fails to delete the video from his iPad and it spreads like wildfire to a multitude of iPads he’s recently given to friends and acquaintances.

At this point, the movie becomes a full-out, R-rated farce: frantic, sometimes overly frantic, but often quite funny, as Diaz and Segel gingerly approach various iPad owners in the loop. One of them is Rob Lowe, a “family values” mogul who’s about to buy Diaz’s blog for big bucks—if they can only keep him from watching the video.

Much silliness ensues, but the movie rarely runs out of steam. Diaz and Segel are a good match, with Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper as their best friends. Segel and his frequent writing partner Nicholas Stoller get screenplay credit alongside sitcom writer-producer Kate Angelo, who originated the story.

Director Jake Kasdan doesn’t miss a single laugh opportunity, and if the film is a bit ragged at times, its likable stars smooth over most of the rough spots.
Best of all, Sex Tape doesn’t wear out its welcome. With high energy and a touch of discretion (to please a wide audience and avoid an NC-17 rating) it accomplishes everything it sets out to do in an hour and a half. It may not be cinema for the ages, but it’s fun.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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May 2024