Skip to main content

Nobody understands the Cloud.

Sex Tape
(2014)

(SPOILERS) As Michael Mann recently discovered with Blackhat, tapping into the zeitgeist is no guarantee of success. Even if Sex Tape had been released in conjunction with Jennifer Lawrence’s Cloud-snatched nudie pics, it’s highly unlikely it would have mustered any more interest than it received last summer. It doesn’t help that the movie is crummy, of course. Yet that hasn’t prevented any countless of clueless comedies from reigning supreme at the US box office (Neighbors, for example). It also didn’t stop the picture doing reasonable business internationally.


One might hope even great unwashed viewers know desperation when they smell it. An in-your-face title like Sex Tape is begging to be shunned. Perhaps the lure of seeing Cameron Diaz’s arse held sway. It might not be as momentous as it was in its prime, but Diaz is holding up well. She has retained a quality of Goldie Hawn goofiness into her fifth decade, just as Hawn did. She’s very nearly the only saving grace of this tiresome affair.


Very nearly, because, for a brief section, this tale of a couple who make the titular “tape” on an iPad in a bid to rekindle their dwindling marital mojo threatens to actually be, you know, funny. It’s probably not coincidental that this passage of the picture has precious little to do with said home movie, other than it where a potential viewer of their indiscreet escapade lives. They visit the home of Diaz’ prospective boss (hubby Jason Segel’s a radio DJ, she’s a professional blogger; tat’s the only-in-Hollywood level of the movie), who is played by none other than Rob Lowe. He of the infamous ‘80s sex tape the vast majority of viewers will either know nothing of or have long since forgotten (so not a great in-joke, then).


Lowe’s been honing his comic chops of late, particularly with his insanely OTT turn in Californication. He’s good here too, but the main chuckles come from Diaz doing coke (Lowe: Where is your husband, Diaz: I don’t know. Where is that fucker?) and hubby Jason Segel fending off a German Shepherd through extreme violence. Yes, it’s the comedy of excess so beloved of Segel patron Judd Apatow, but for a few minutes the picture musters some smiles.


Jake Kasdan, son of Lawrence, is trying to replicate the success of his earlier Diaz hit Bad Teacher. But that movie’s title spoke to its content in a good way. There was much potential there. Here, it’s a case of “So they make the video. What happens next?” 90-minute comedies should be embraced for cutting the fat, but only if they’re half decent. Kasdan’s writers (Kate Angelo of The Back-Up Plan, Segel and Stoller, who, with Gulliver’s Travels and Muppets Most Wanted are going all out for supreme stinkers lately) have no idea what they’re doing or where they’re going with the plot, which is why the interlude with the coke and the dog occurs.


Then they have Rob Corddry’s kid  (Corddry seems to be in everything at the moment; I’m not quite sure why) blackmail Segel, having run out of steam with the “hunt the iPads” thread. It isn’t remotely convincing, as developments go, And then they are manoeuvred into visiting Jack Black’s pornlord. Who offers them sincere marital advice. It’s that bad.


The weirdest thing is, this is a Sony movie that’s one long advert for Apple. From its amazinfg camera quality to its durability (“Man, the construction of these things is just unbelievable”), this is clearly a device no one can do without, even a rival electronics company.


The only well-observed moment in the movie comes very early, when Segel’s daughter asks why they keep having all these days, then going to bed at night, then repeating it over and over again. And on and on. Pointless, continuous, like Hollywood comedies. Moments later we learn she has put her finger in her butt. Which is Kasdan and Segel’s preferred level. Sex Tape’s marginal merit is that it its superior to Zach and Miri Make a Porno, with boorish oaf Seth Rogen. Segel looks awful, by the way. Like he’s about to peg out. Diaz dazzles in roller-skates and is in Hawn’s position of convincingly co-starring with a guy nearly a decade her junior. As with Hawn, though, she needs to martial her career more wisely.


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

I don’t need to be held together, I’m fine just floating through space like Andy.

Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (2017)
Or, to give it its full subtitle, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond – The Story of Jim Carrey & Andy Kaufman Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton. Carrey’s in a contradictory place just now, on the one hand espousing his commitment to a spiritual path and enlightened/ing state, on the other being sued in respect of his ex-girlfriend’s suicide and accompanying allegations regarding his behaviour. That behaviour – in a professional context – and his place of consciousness are the focus of Jim & Andy, and an oft-repeated mantra (great for motivational speeches) that “I learned that you can fail at what you don’t love, so you may as well do what you love. There’s really no choice to be made”. The results are consequently necessarily contradictory, but always fascinating.

She writes Twilight fan fiction.

Vampire Academy (2014)
My willingness to give writer Daniel Waters some slack on the grounds of early glories sometimes pays off (Sex and Death 101) and sometimes, as with this messy and indistinct Young Adult adaptation, it doesn’t. If Vampire Academy plods along as a less than innovative smart-mouthed Buffy rip-off that might be because, if you added vampires to Heathers, you would probably get something not so far from the world of Joss Whedon. Unfortunately inspiration is a low ebb throughout, not helped any by tepid direction from Daniel’s sometimes-reliable brother Mark and a couple of hopelessly plankish leads who do their best to dampen down any wit that occasionally attempts to surface.

I can only presume there’s a never-ending pile of Young Adult fiction poised for big screen failure, all of it comprising multi-novel storylines just begging for a moment in the Sun. Every time an adaptation crashes and burns (and the odds are that they will) another one rises, hydra-like, hoping…

Exit bear, pursued by an actor.

Paddington 2 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Paddington 2 is every bit as upbeat and well-meaning as its predecessor. It also has more money thrown at it, a much better villain (an infinitely better villain) and, in terms of plotting, is more developed, offering greater variety and a more satisfying structure. Additionally, crucially, it succeeds in offering continued emotional heft and heart to the Peruvian bear’s further adventures. It isn’t, however, quite as funny.

Even suggesting such a thing sounds curmudgeonly, given the universal applause greeting the movie, but I say that having revisited the original a couple of days prior and found myself enjoying it even more than on first viewing. Writer-director Paul King and co-writer Simon Farnaby introduce a highly impressive array of set-ups with huge potential to milk their absurdity to comic ends, but don’t so much squander as frequently leave them undertapped.

Paddington’s succession of odd jobs don’t quite escalate as uproariously as they migh…

No, by the sky demon! I say no!

Doctor Who The Pirate Planet
I doubt Pennant Roberts, popular as he undoubtedly was with the cast, was anyone’s idea of a great Doctor Who director. Introduced to the show by Philip Hinchliffe – a rare less-than-sterling move – he made a classic story on paper (The Face of Evil) just pretty good, and proceeded to translate Robert Holmes’ satirical The Sun Makers merely functionally. When he returned to the show during the ‘80s, he was responsible for two entirely notorious productions, in qualitative terms. But The Pirate Planet is the story where his slipshod, rickety, make-do approach actually works… most of the time (look at the surviving footage of Shada, where there are long passages of straight narrative, and it’s evident Roberts wasn’t such a good fit). Douglas Adams script is so packed, both with plot and humour, that its energy is inbuilt; there’s no need to rely on a craftsman to imbue tension or pace. There is a caveat, of course: if your idea of Doctor Who requires a straig…

Never compare me to the mayor in Jaws! Never!

Ghostbusters (2016)
(SPOILERS) Paul Feig is a better director than Ivan Reitman, or at very least he’s savvy enough to gather technicians around him who make his films look good, but that hasn’t helped make his Ghostbusters remake (or reboot) a better movie than the original, and that’s even with the original not even being that great a movie in the first place.

Along which lines, I’d lay no claims to the 1984 movie being some kind of auteurist gem, but it does make some capital from the polarising forces of Aykroyd’s ultra-geekiness on the subject of spooks and Murray’s “I’m just here for the asides” irreverence. In contrast, Feig’s picture is all about treating the subject as he does any other genre, be it cop, or spy, or romcom. There’s no great affection, merely a reliably professional approach, one minded to ensure that a generous quota of gags (on-topic not required) can be pumped out via abundant improv sessions.

So there’s nothing terribly wrong with Ghostbusters, but aside from …

This place sure isn’t like that one in Austria.

Brawl in Cell Block 99 (2017)
(SPOILERS) Brawl in Cell Block 99 is most definitely cut from the same cloth as writer-director-co-composer Craig S Zahler’s previous flick Bone Tomahawk: an inexorable, slow-burn suspenser that works equally well as a character drama. That is, when it isn’t revelling in sporadic bursts of ultraviolence, including a finale in a close-quartered pit of hell. If there’s nothing quite as repellent as that scene in Bone Tomahawk, it’s never less than evident that this self-professedchild of Fangoria” loves his grue. He also appears to have a predilection for, to use his own phraseology, less politically correct content.

We’re not in a prophecy… We’re in a stolen Toyota Corolla.

Bright (2017)
(SPOILERS) Is Bright shite? The lion’s share of the critics would have you believe so, including a quick-on-the-trigger Variety, which gave it one of the few good reviews but then pronounced it DOA in order to announce their intention for Will Smith to run for the Oval Office (I’m sure he’ll take it under advisement). I don’t really see how the movie can’t end up as a “success”; most people who have Netflix will at least be curious about an all-new $90m movie with a (waning, but only because he’s keeps making bad choices) major box office star. As to whether it’s any good, Bright’s about on a level with most of director David Ayer’s movies, in that it’s fast, flashy and fitfully entertaining, but also very muddled, mixed-up and, no matter how much cash is thrown at it, still resembles the kind of thing that usually ends up straight to video (making Netflix his ideal home).

This is how we do action in Uganda.

Who Killed Captain Alex? (2010)
Uganda’s first action movie”, Who Killed Captain Alex? is a cheerfully ultra-low budget, wholly amateur picture made by Nabwana Isaac Godfrey Geoffrey. It’s the kind of thing you and your mates would make and (rightly) expect no one else to ever watch (aside from a few hundred hits on YouTube). But stick a frequently hilarious running commentary over the top from VJ (video joker) Emme, and it this home-ish move takes on something approaching the spoofy quality of What’s Up Tiger Lilly?

Nothing in the world can stop me now!

This is not going to go the way you think!

Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
(SPOILERS) The most interesting aspect of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, particularly given the iron fist Lucasfilm has wielded over the spinoffs, is how long a leash Rian Johnson has been granted to tear apart the phonier, Original Trilogy-lite aspects of The Force Awakens. The resulting problem is that the areas where he’s evidently inspired are very good (almost anything Force related, basically), but there are consequently substantial subplots that simply don’t work, required as they are to pay lip service to characters or elements he feels have nowhere to go. The positives undoubtedly tip the balance significantly in The Last Jedi’s favour, but they also mean it hasn’t a hope of attaining the all-round status of IV and V (still the out-of-reach grail for the franchise, quality-wise). Which is a shame, as thematically, this has far more going on, handled with far greater acumen, than anything in the interim.