Film Review: Sex Tape


Jake Kasdan’s Sex Tape has the promise of a raucous comedy. Unfortunately it does not quite deliver in the humour stakes.

Having been married for several years and with two children, Annie and Jay have little time for intimacy. The couple decide to make a sex tape, only to discover the video isn’t as private as they thought…

It is clear what the filmmakers are trying to do with Sex Tape. Rather than an out-and-out raunchy comedy, writers Kate Angelo, Nicholas Stoller and Jason Segel try to inject more feeling into the narrative, with the central theme of the trials of marriage apparent from the very beginning of the movie.

However, Sex Tape fails simply for its lack of genuine laughs. Without these, the film flails as a romance; not quite edgy enough to compensate for the overt sentiment. The script lunges between crudeness and this rather twee sentiment. The balance would have been more successful had there been belly laughs.

Director Jake Kasdan reunites with Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz after the success of Bad Teacher. A similar style of humour tries to be replicated in Sex Tape, but it is not as effective this time round. The funniest sequence raises a few laughs, but this comes at a mid point in the film. Elsewhere, the movie feels padded out with additional strands to compensate for a flimsy central plot.

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel have good chemistry in Sex Tape. Segel is looking gaunt, which can be distracting at first. It is Rob Lowe who is responsible for the film’s most memorable part. The actor is becoming something of a scene-stealer in his recent film roles.

Sex Tape is in the unusual position of being not funny enough for a rambunctious comedy, and being too lewd for a romance. Although the film is rarely dull, it is not memorable either.

Young Adult Clip

Charlize Theron plays a fiction writer who returns to her hometown in Young Adult. In what I have heard about it so far, Theron’s character is similar to Cameron Diaz’s in Bad Teacher. Young Adult is directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, which gives certain expectations. I have also heard a rumour that Young Adult features a fluffy dog, which elevates it to must-see level. In the above clip, Mavis meets her ex-boyfriend’s baby for the first time. I’m not going to lie, sometimes I act just as awkwardly when people present me with their offspring. Young Adult reaches UK cinemas on 3rd February 2012.

In Praise (and Derision) of… Cameron Diaz

Watching Cameron Diaz in Bad Teacher recently brought back what a likeable actress she is. While she may not possess the acting chops of a veteran such as Meryl Streep, Diaz certainly has a flair for comedy. She has an understated appeal; although comedy is the genre Diaz is most often associated with, she is not particularly seen as one of luminaries of the genre. Below are some of her memorable performances, though perhaps not the most obvious ones…

Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz is immense fun as foul-mouthed Elizabeth in Bad Teacher. Much of the film’s humour is crass, but she handles this deftly. She never becomes overly masculine, despite the crudeness of her character. Diaz is responsible for many of the film’s laughs, and delivers a great performance overall.

Knight and Day

Although Knight and Day was not an excellent film, it definitely benefited from having Diaz as one of the protagonists. She has great chemistry with Tom Cruise, which makes the film far more enjoyable than it would have been. Her character June is rather ditzy, a trait that Diaz plays exceptionally well.

A Life Less Ordinary

Not one of Cameron Diaz’s most memorable films, 1997’s A Life Less Ordinary again benefited from her onscreen chemistry, this time with Ewan McGregor. An unconventional love story between a kidnapper and his victim that included the meddling of angels, Diaz’s Celine oozes attitude but manages to exude genuine emotion as well.

Gangs of New York

The derision of Cameron Diaz in  can be simply summed up by the following: her accent in Gangs of New York.  Her part-Irish, part-American accent is distractingly bad. So much so, it detracts from an otherwise decent performance. There are other dubious accents in Martin Scorsese’s film, but sadly Diaz’s inflections are in a league of their own.

Film Review: Bad Teacher

Cameron Diaz is on top form in entertaining comedy Bad Teacher. It is definitely one of the better recent adverts for females taking on central comedic roles, proving that women can hold their own and should not be confined to cheesy, predictable rom-coms. Unless they are Jennifer Aniston.

Elizabeth Halsey is foul-mouthed, unprofessional teacher, concerned only with finding a rich man to marry. When her fiancé dumps her, Elizabeth is forced to go back to her old job. She sets her sights on rich new teacher Scott Delacorte, but her behaviour attracts the attention of the successful colleague Amy Squirrel…

Given the premise, Bad Teacher could have gone down a similar path to School of Rock. Thankfully, Jake Kasdan’s film eschew this option, choosing to focus on a character that does not want to redeem herself or help others. The aim of Bad Teacher is to generate laughs; other aspects are secondary to this.

What works so well in Bad Teacher is the frequency of the humour. Comedy in the film balances carefully between being accessible and being raucous. Jokes are not too close to the bone as to offend anyone but the most sensitive of souls, yet humour is often garnered from shocking or surprising comments.

As such, Bad Teacher exudes an admirable attitude. It is not offensive for shock value; the humour more often than not is better than this. Rather, the crassness is present simply because it is genuinely funny, immature as this may be. Although there is a romantic angle, this never overshadows the humour. Plenty of comedies feature more serious or poignant scenes, which can become overly sentimental if not executed well. Writers Gene Stupnitsky and Lee Eisenberg avoid this trap in Bad Teacher. Any moments of realisation or emotion are handled with the lightest touch; there are no heavy-handed scenes where the protagonist realises the error of her ways. The film is all the better because of this.

Cameron Diaz is great as Elizabeth. The actress clearly seems to be having a lot of fun with the role, and the style of comedy suits Diaz very well. She gets fantastic support from most of the cast. Lucy Punch is fantastic as Amy, while Jason Segel is wisely cast as gym teacher Russell. Segel’s role is fairly minor but provides sufficient humour. Justin Timberlake is a lot of fun as Scott, and is given some great lines.

Bad Teacher is not the greatest comedy ever made. It is, however, great fun and a lot better than many of the other comedies released this year.