There’s no use in denying it: A big portion of the audience for R-rated comedy Sex Tape will be seeing it simply to ogle a practically naked, sexed up Cameron Diaz frolicking on screen. These people will leave the cinema slightly satisfied. Unfortunately, the same paltry assurance can’t even be made for everybody else.

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Annie (Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) used to be a passionate young couple with a sexual vigour that would make bunny rabbits blush, but since embarking on parenthood, they’ve found their sex lives to be non-existent. So when a rare child-free night pops up, and with the couple in a celebratory mood (tequila!) after Annie got word that her mommy-blog may just be bought by a big company, they decide to spice things up again by making a sex tape. A really long sex tape. In which they enact every single human pretzel position found in the “The Joy of Sex”.

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In a fit of post-sex sobriety, Annie asks Jay to delete the sex tape from the iPad which they used to record it, but due to a bit of techno-gobbledygook that is actually impossible in reality, Jay instead syncs the incriminating footage to a whole bunch of iPads the couple had given to friends (including Rob Lowe’s Hank Rosenbaum, the CEO of the family-friendly company purchasing Annie’s blog) and strangers as a gift.

Cue much frantic hijinx and ludicrous gags. Well, not really.

The simple truth of the the matter is that despite the potentially hilarious setup, Sex Tape is really just not that funny. Jokes fall flat faster and more often than an erectile dysfunction convention, as the script from Segel, Nicholas Stoller (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Get Him To the Greek) and Kate Angelo seems to think that just having Cameron Diaz be a potty mouth is enough to garner laughs. Segel playing the same character we’ve seen countless times now already, certainly doesn’t help. Nor does the fact that the script squanders it’s madcap comedy potential by severely toning down Annie and Jay’s quest for the iPads to essentially just two locations. What could have been a mad dash across town filled with a series of escalating comedy gags, ends up being a very tame “adventure” that mostly involve bad jokes that run on for too long (oh hey there, Jack Black as the scummy owner of YouPorn!) and Annie and Jay arguing with each other.

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Co-stars Rob Cordry and Ellie Kemper alleviate the mundanity a bit as they get the best lines, while Lowe’s mansion sets the scene for the funniest section of the movie, involving some unexpected music choices, a large quantity of cocaine and a very persistent German Shepherd. But even that particular scene, with all its ludicrousy, ends up eliciting no more than mild laughter at best rather than the belly shaking guffaws you would expect from Sex Tape‘s premise and talent attached.

And when it comes to the film’s many sex scenes, Diaz and Segel certainly give ballsy (hur dur) performances, but even the R-rated nature of these have been slightly oversold. Director Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story) makes sure that despite the naked pair getting into some very intimate, and in some cases highly flexible positions, you never actually get to see anything of note happening, despite the hoopla that Diaz was making pre-release about how she was going full monty for this.

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Normally actresses’ levels of undress wouldn’t really factor into one of my movie reviews, but like I mentioned at the start of this, these things are almost certainly going to be considered by a certain portion of the audience. And when an R-rated comedy fails to fully live up to and/or embrace either its potential raunchiness or absurd hilarity, it has to be noted.

And just to prove their lack of conviction when it comes to the film’s smuttiness, Kasdan and co pull a Hangover, with the viewing of the actual sex tape left for the film’s end credits, by which time I’m certain a number of audience members would have succumbed to a post/pre-coital snooze. If not by then, then probably by the end of the underwhelming tape itself.

To paraphrase that famed T.S. Eliot poem: this is the way the movie ends, with a boring bang, and maybe a few whimpers from disappointed audience members.

Sex Tape opens at local theatres on Friday, 22 August 2014.

Last Updated: August 19, 2014

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Kervyn Cloete

A man of many passions - but very little sleep - I've been geeking out over movies, video games, comics, books, anime, TV series and lemon meringues as far back as I can remember. So show up for the geeky insight, stay for the delicious pastries.

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