Movie Review: ‘Sex Tape’ confuses with family-friendly raunch

Movie Review: ‘Sex Tape’ confuses with family-friendly raunch
Movie Review: ‘Sex Tape’ confuses with family-friendly raunch

‘Sex Tape’
★★ 1/2

It’s never quite as funny as Kim Kardashian becoming a media superstar after her randy home movie with Ray J, but there’s still enough scandal-power attached to the idea of a runaway sex tape to make this raunchy farce work reasonably well.

Yet it’s a little odd to see how hard it works, simultaneously, to double-underscore wholesome family values.

Jay and Annie (Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz, re-teaming after 2011’s “Bad Teacher”) are a suburban mom and dad with two lovable kids. Life is good except for one little problem. Sex used to be an all-day, everyday proposition involving sombreros, etc., but now, after 10 years of marriage, it’s something to be penciled in next Thursday — maybe.

What can they possibly do to spice things up?

If you’re thinking they might find a naughty new use for a webcam, say filming themselves running through every position in “The Joy of Sex,” you’re a good guesser. And if you’re thinking that, thanks to an elaborate cloud-synching mishap, their romp will be linked to iPads Jay’s given to family and friends, well, you’re practically psychic. Or you’ve seen the trailers. Either way, there’s ultimately a lot more excitement than they bargained for as the couple desperately attempts to locate and erase each of the videos before they are viewed.

Director Jake Kasdan (also a “Bad Teacher” alum) takes a longish time to warm things up, but “Sex Tape” eventually pays off nicely when it shifts to caper mode. Especially when Jay and Annie attempt to reclaim an iPad from a toy-company CEO (Rob Lowe, a veteran of his own sex-tape troubles) who’s considering sponsoring her mommy blog and turns out to be a lot less squeaky-clean than he appears.

There are times when “Sex Tape” appears to be straining almost as self-consciously to be raunchy as it does to work in Apple product placement (“The construction of these things is unbelievable,” marvels Jay after dropping a tablet on the floor). Both of the leads spend a considerable amount of time nude and there’s no shortage of graphic detail as they discuss their sex lives, yet the bottom line is still safe, suburban and family-friendly. Jay and Annie even turn breaking and entering into a family activity at one point.

That’s not a major problem, but it’s a bit confusing — also a bit disconcerting, occasionally. It’s a little hard to process when double-sided dildos are being tossed around in one scene and mom, dad and the kids are joshing about bowling in another. Just like it’s hard to process when Jack Black shows up as the tough-talking proprietor or Youporn.com and starts dispensing sensitive relationship advice.

Cognitive dissonance can be funny, but sometimes it just doesn’t ring true.

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