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

Who’s got the Figgy Port?

Loki (2021) (SPOILERS) Can something be of redeemable value and shot through with woke (the answer is: Mad Max: Fury Road )? The two attributes certainly sound essentially irreconcilable, and Loki ’s tendencies – obviously, with new improved super-progressive Kevin Feige touting Disney’s uber-agenda – undeniably get in the way of what might have been a top-tier MCU entry from realising its full potential. But there are nevertheless solid bursts of highly engaging storytelling in the mix here, for all its less cherishable motivations. It also boasts an effortlessly commanding lead performance from Tom Hiddleston; that alone puts Loki head and shoulders above the other limited series thus far.

Here’s Bloody Justice for you.

Laughter in Paradise (1951) (SPOILERS) The beginning of a comedic run for director-producer Mario Zampa that spanned much of the 1950s, invariably aided by writers Michael Pertwee and Jack Davies (the latter went on to pen a spate of Norman Wisdom pictures including The Early Bird , and also comedy rally classic Monte Carlo or Bust! ) As usual with these Pertwee jaunts, Laughter in Paradise boasts a sparky premise – renowned practical joker bequeaths a fortune to four relatives, on condition they complete selected tasks that tickle him – and more than enough resultant situational humour.

Damn prairie dog burrow!

Tremors (1990) (SPOILERS) I suspect the reason the horror comedy – or the sci-fi comedy, come to that – doesn’t tend to be the slam-dunk goldmine many assume it must be, is because it takes a certain sensibility to do it right. Everyone isn’t a Joe Dante or Sam Raimi, or a John Landis, John Carpenter, Edgar Wright, Christopher Landon or even a Peter Jackson or Tim Burton, and the genre is littered with financial failures, some of them very good failures (and a good number of them from the names mentioned). Tremors was one, only proving a hit on video (hence six sequels at last count). It also failed to make Ron Underwood a directing legend.

You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster?

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (2012) The final finale of the Twilight saga, in which pig-boy Jacob tells Bella that, “No, it's not like that at all!” after she accuses him of being a paedo. But then she comes around to his viewpoint, doubtless displaying the kind of denial many parents did who let their kids spend time with Jimmy Savile or Gary Glitter during the ‘70s. It's lucky little Renesmee will be an adult by the age of seven, right? Right... Jacob even jokes that he should start calling Edward, “Dad”. And all the while they smile and smile.

I’m just glad Will Smith isn’t alive to see this.

The Tomorrow War (2021) (SPOILERS). Not so much tomorrow as yesterday. There’s a strong sense of déjà vu watching The Tomorrow War , so doggedly derivative is it of every time-travel/alien war/apocalyptic sci-fi movie of the past forty years. Not helping it stand out from the pack are doughy lead Chris Pratt, damned to look forever on the beefy side no matter how ripped he is and lacking the chops or gravitas for straight roles, and debut live-action director Chris McKay, who manages to deliver the goods in a serviceably anonymous fashion.

Why don't we go on a picnic, up the hill?

Invaders from Mars (1986) (SPOILERS) One can wax thematical over the number of remakes of ’50s movies in the ’80s – and ’50s SF movies in particular – and of how they represent ever-present Cold War and nuclear threats, and steadily increasing social and familial paranoias and disintegrating values. Really, though, it’s mostly down to the nostalgia of filmmakers for whom such pictures were formative influences (and studios hoping to make an easy buck on a library property). Tobe Hooper’s version of nostalgia, however, is not so readily discernible as a John Carpenter or a David Cronenberg (not that Cronenberg could foment such vibes, any more than a trip to the dental hygienist). Because his directorial qualities are not so readily discernible. Tobe Hooper movies tend to be a bit shit. Which makes it unsurprising that Invaders from Mars is a bit shit.

What's a movie star need a rocket for anyway?

The Rocketeer (1991) (SPOILERS) The Rocketeer has a fantastic poster. One of the best of the last thirty years (and while that may seem like faint praise, what with poster design being a dying art – I’m looking at you Marvel, or Amazon and the recent The Tomorrow War – it isn’t meant to be). The movie itself, however, tends towards stodge. Unremarkable pictures with a wide/cult fanbase, conditioned by childhood nostalgia, are ten-a-penny – Willow for example – and in this case, there was also a reasonably warm critical reception. But such an embrace can’t alter that Joe Johnston makes an inveterately bland, tepid movie director. His “feel” for period here got him The First Avenger: Captain America gig, a bland, tepid movie tending towards stodge. So at least he’s consistent.

I'm offering you a half-share in the universe.

Doctor Who Season 8 – Worst to Best I’m not sure I’d watched Season Eight chronologically before. While I have no hesitation in placing it as the second-best Pertwee season, based on its stories, I’m not sure it pays the same dividends watched as a unit. Simply, there’s too much Master, even as Roger Delgado never gets boring to watch and the stories themselves offer sufficient variety. His presence, turning up like clockwork, is inevitably repetitive. There were no particular revelatory reassessments resulting from this visit, then, except that, taken together – and as The Directing Route extra on the Blu-ray set highlights – it’s often much more visually inventive than what would follow. And that Michael Ferguson should probably have been on permanent attachment throughout this era.

As in the hokey kids’ show guy?

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (2019) (SPOILERS) I don’t think Mr Rogers could have been any creepier had Kevin Spacey played him. It isn’t just the baggage Tom Hanks brings, and whether or not he’s the adrenochrome lord to the stars and/or in Guantanamo and/or dead and/or going to make a perfectly dreadful Colonel Tom Parker and an equally awful Geppetto; it’s that his performance is so constipated and mannered an imitation of Mr Rogers’ genuineness that this “biopic” takes on a fundamentally sinister turn. His every scene with a youngster isn’t so much exuding benevolent empathy as suggestive of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang ’s Child Catcher let loose in a TV studio (and again, this bodes well for Geppetto). Extend that to A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood ’s conceit, that Mr Rogers’ life is one of a sociopathic shrink milking angst from his victims/patients in order to get some kind of satiating high – a bit like a rejuvenating drug, on that score – and you have a deeply unsettli

It’ll be like living in the top drawer of a glass box.

Someone’s Watching Me! (1978) (SPOILERS) The first of a pair of TV movies John Carpenter directed in the 1970s, but Someone’s Watching Me! is more affiliated, in genre terms, to his breakout hit ( Halloween ) and reasonably successful writing job ( The Eyes of Laura Mars ) of the same year than the also-small-screen Elvis . Carpenter wrote a slew of gun-for-hire scripts during this period – some of which went on to see the twilight of day during the 1990s – so directing Someone’s Watching Me! was not a given. It’s well-enough made and has its moments of suspense, but you sorely miss a signature Carpenter theme – it was by Harry Sukman, his penultimate work, the final being Salem’s Lot – and it really does feel very TV movie-ish.