Movie review: Be kind and just rewind “Sex Tape”

From the July 17, 2014 edition

R-rated comedies have become so bankable in the past decade that we may officially be reaching critical mass. It seems you can’t throw a dildo without hitting a raunchy comedy this summer.

The latest entry is also one of the worst. “Sex Tape” is a truly limp comedy (get it?) that combines that tired troupe of a loving marriage that has grown boring with a plot that sets up lots of immature snickering over sex.

Early in their relationship, Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) were sexual dynamos — as established by a montage of them hooking up in college libraries, parked cars, etc. But years of marriage and two kids have altered their priorities and led to scheduled sex. “Maybe one night we’ll have sex instead of watching ‘Project Runway’?” Jay suggests. “We’ll Tivo ‘Project Runway.’”

Jay works in the music business, and Annie is a blogger (her blog name? “Who’s Yo Mommy?” Barf.). When Annie is approached by the head of a toy company (Rob Lowe) to blog for them, she decides to celebrate the job offer by sending the kids to Grandma’s house for a night alone with Jay.

In order to spice things up (barf), the couple decides to make a homemade sex tape on their iPad. Then they get a lesson in cloud computing when an ill-timed sync sends copies of their coupling to all their friends.

Director Jake Kasdan is reunited with his “Bad Teacher” star Diaz, whom I’ve always found charming in smaller doses but less so in starring roles, this one included. Segal is playing the same sweet, aloof character he always plays.

The story, penned by Kate Angelo (“The Backup Plan”? Barf.), has a ham-handed setup for how the sex tape gets out into the world — and sometimes seems like a commercial for the iPad. The only sustained funny sequence involves a straight-laced Lowe relaxing at home by casually sipping Scotch and listening to Slayer before doing lines of coke. Even this is intercut with an unfunny bit of physical humor involving Segal’s character and a guard dog.

When things settle in to the predictable “everyone learns a valuable lesson” ending, it elicits more eye rolls than laughs. Hopefully we can get away from the cookie-cutter and start to see inventive grown-up comedies again.