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Movie Review: ‘Sex Tape’

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(Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in "Sex Tape.")

(Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in “Sex Tape.”)

Wine_Bill--NEW Bill Wine
Bill Wine has been KYW Newsradio’s movie critic since 2001. You can...
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By Bill Wine
KYW Newsradio 1060

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Sexy?  Yes.

Sleazy?  No.

Funny?  Yes!

That about sums up Sex Tape, the risqué farce featuring Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as spouses looking to rekindle their connection.

(2½ stars out of 4)

(2½ stars out of 4)

“How do you get it back?” asks Diaz’s character about the sexual spark in her marriage in her new, R-rated comedy.

And the two stars –- playing Annie and Jay, ten-year marrieds and the parents of two — are such agreeable company that viewers shouldn’t be asking the same question about the hour and a half they’ve just spent with them, despite a convoluted premise that plunges into the digital era and never looks back.

Annie writes a mommy blog, Jay works in the radio industry in Los Angeles.  And they’re so busy with the kids and the jobs and the chores and the domestic details that their sex life has been put on the back burner.

So they send the kids to their grandmother’s house for the night and plan to have an intimate evening.

Which isn’t as easy and automatic as it sounds, so they decide to spice things up by creating a private video of their frisky business, as they try out just about every position described in The Joy Of Sex over the course of three hours.

The problem is that their secret sex tape (that is, computer file) isn’t staying a secret:  it’s gone public, gone viral, gone crazy.

Their X-rated footage has inadvertently been shared with their family and friends thanks to the “cloud.”  Damage control becomes the desperate priority.  And it will take all their resourcefulness to head that embarrassing file off at the cyberspace pass.

Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper play their best married friends, Rob Lowe (accompanied by several inside-joke references to what we might call his off-screen background) plays the conservative CEO of a toy company considering buying Annie’s blog, and Jack Black has a telling cameo.

The director, Jake Kasdan (Orange County, The TV Set, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story), last collaborated with the two stars on the 2011 comedy Bad Teacher.  And he makes effective use of their natural rapport, which helps to cover the tonal shifts in the script (written by Kate Angelo, Segel, and Nicholas Stoller based on a story by Angelo), although this is a case in which a committee-scribed screenplay that moves in several different directions benefits from the approach.

Sex Tape offers more than its share of pure -– and some impure — physical comedy, which Segel and Diaz not only meet the challenge of but thrive on, delivering a respectable number of laugh-out-loud moments.

One thing that we could easily live without, however, is the unabashed product placement, the source of which shall remain nameless here.  It is uncomfortably and obnoxiously prominent, but admittedly the likable leads help to distract us.

So we’ll videotape 2½ stars out of 4 for Sex Tape, a mirthful marital meringue baked in the shape of the beast with two backs.

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