Not a tape to watch
Sex Tape is awkward, and not in the, “shared a homemade sex video across Apple’s cloud services” awkward. This is the awkward that lingers, hovering and peering over extended failed jokes while the script seems to be written on the go in order to save the project. Few comedies wallow in their pitiful, directionless routines like Sex Tape.
Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segal) run through the marital/parenthood trap as to drop their characters into predictable ditches from which they cannot climb out. They’re buried before given a chance to relax in this miserable techno-fear story – and all with Apple’s glowing LED logo spread across the movie, as if this is some twisted reality where this scenario sells stock.
Annie and Jay, in an attempt to spice things up in the bedroom slightly, decide to film themselves doing the dirty and create an intercourse video (a Sex Tape if you will). Thus, the title which is spread around via Jay’s syncing app to friends and family who have partaken in Jay’s implausible iPad charity giving, followed with a preposterous and reckless two house chase to recover from the mishap.
Rob Lowe pops up in an elongated pace-sinking scene from which Sex Tape will never recover. A bit of egregious animal abuse (humor!), stifling cocaine gags, and unreal idiocy is too far, yet there seems to exist no realization of how rapidly Sex Tape is falling apart.
Audiences are under the lens of Jake Kasdan who has given us the glorious Walk Hard and competent Bad Teacher, but he fizzles here despite a comfortable cast. Sex Tape is all premise, alluring yet with some finality only one note. Annie & Jay’s situation is hardly as complex as it appears, and since their accidental flub is readily solved remotely, they only come across as panicked morons.
By the time Sex Tape is picking up on potential, closing credits are near and all of that build up rots away into nothingness. Viewers spend time with these archetype characters, given dismal closure and sharing in few laughs. In fact, Sex Tape is representative of the amateur stand-up comedian whose material instantaneously dies under the spotlight, but still has another hour to go without any crowd approval – outside of those few awkward chuckles for politeness sake.
Sex Tape ranks abysmally low on the scale of new release live action brought to Blu-ray, although complaints levied toward Sony are likely few. This appears to be a post-production debacle where the unstoppable glaze of noise and irresponsible black crush was somehow ignored. Then again, maybe the garish appearance is appropriate for this limited comedy. The uncomfortable look suits this mess.
Some sharpness is evident. Undoubtedly, certain close-ups will present enough resolution to land facial definition. A handful of exteriors are clean too. Everything else is an apparent digital disaster.
Flesh tones often make actors flush with reds and bleed oranges, a consequence of brutal saturation. Colors are not raised for effect so much as they are outright ugly. Other times, they’re breaching trust levels, as with Harrison Holzer’s red shirt near the end of the film. It smears as if uncontrolled.
And the black crush… so much black crush. Rob Corddry is lost in the back of a car during one late night conversation and Jason Segal’s head appears to one with the vehicle roof’s interior. By the third act, Sex Tape is entering extremes, with blacks pushed past their breaking point and turning into a glowing blue hue. Maybe this is all meant to hide the buzzy and AVC encode-challenging level of noise.
Other than a party scene and ambient hip hop, Sex Tape will not work out any audio systems. DTS-HD mixing is fine and in balance without any spikes or lows. Fidelity proves clean, as if expectations were any different.
Material is dry and low in opportunity. Any channel spread is barely noticeable and dialog (even with a few chances to spread to the sides) is firmly rooted in the center. It’s a comedy and sounds like one.
The blooper reel is probably the best thing on this disc, certainly so in terms of the bonuses. Three brief deleted/extended scenes can’t compete against the laughs. Neither can a dull featurette called Capturing the Moment, which doesn’t have time to be anything other than a behind-the-scenes commercial at six minutes long.
A line-o-rama extra adds a few zingers of improv, particularly when dealing with a certain cameo. Romance Reboot gives Dr. Jen Berman a chance to spill some details on spicing up the sex life, and an in-character bit with Rob Lowe, Meet Hank Rosenbaum, is barely a blip on the funny-detecting radar.
Click on the images below for full resolution screen captures taken directly from the Blu-ray. Images have not been altered in any way during the process.