Once upon a time in my career of being yelled at on the internet by commenters, The Best Commenter In The World messaged me in regard to a review I wrote. I don't remember which film inspired it but his (her?) entire message was, “I have many sexy rubbings to this film.”
I bet the makers of Sex Tape would feel all ooky inside if my commenter enjoyed many sexy rubbings while watching their movie. And that's because in spite of its title it’s the least sexy sex comedy in years, a desperate, extended sitcom about people who are ashamed that they got kinky for a night, people who then run around frantically trying to erase the lingering memory, all the while not understanding how the internet works.
They also don’t know much about how life works. They have names, I guess, but not identities, so I’ll call them The Wife and The Husband. The Wife (Cameron Diaz) is a stay-at-home mother and popular blogger being courted by a major corporation that wants to buy her site. The Husband (Jason Segel) is a guy who owns a lot of iPads and gets to play any Belle & Sebastian song he wants on a cool, unnamed Los Angeles radio station. This scenario affords them a sweet house in a city where nobody can afford a house, so it’s not just a sex farce, it’s also science fiction. Anyway, in their former lives they were sexual firebrands but now they have two young children and that’s their excuse for turning into the dullards they always wanted to be. Solution to boredom: make a sex video on one of the iPads.
Rather than inventing a naughty MILF meets DILF moment, they’re stumped for inspiration, so they do what any 72-year-old would do (no offense to all you horny 72 year-olds) and pull a vintage copy of The Joy of Sex off the bookshelf so they can recreate all the positions. Based on the aftermath, there were vegetables and a cactus plant involved, because THAT'S WHAT INVENTIVE, UNINHIBITED SEX IS, YOU GUYS. IT HAS EGGPLANTS THAT YOU STICK IN PLACES. Then the video leaks its way onto all the other iPads and the rest of the film is a scavenger hunt to retrieve the mortifying evidence of their cluelessness and erectile dysfunction.
To ground this story into 21st century reality would require recognizing that it's the same world where Kim Kardashian's homemade porn with Ray J can be leveraged into a life of TV stardom, booze spokespersonship and licensing deals with Sears for cheaply made blouses. In that world your itty bitty blip on the XTube radar means about as much to the rest of the population as if you got up at karaoke on a Thursday night in your mid-size city's third most popular venue and sang all the lyrics to "The Humpty Dance" from memory.
But this isn’t 21st century reality. This is wannabe naughtiness with some R-rated swears and a couple shots of naked buttocks. Appropriately, the aesthetic is strictly Full House, primary and wholesome, the opposite of people giving each other many sexy rubbings. Energy is expended without sweat, comedy sex is constructed without dirtiness or laughs, and a condescending teachable moment is delivered by a third-act pornographer (Jack Black) who reminds his hapless married friends that people who make sex videos of themselves are merely acting out some kind of inner pathology. Thanks, Smut Yoda, you make terrific sense on Backwards Day. Now I have a headache.