Marriage is no cake walk. Jobs and mortgages and kids take their toll on couples, making them lose the passion they once had. The bright and burning bonfire of love can be sequestered to a tiny candle set atop the layer cake of life, the wax of relationship sadly beading on the chocolate frosting of time …
Oh, good grief. Let me just come out and say it: They stop having so much sex.
Jay and Annie know all too well how it goes. Early on in their relationship, their lusty fire could've immolated small towns. But several years and a couple of babies later, Jay and Annie just don't have the time or energy they once did. The tinder's gone soggy. The fire flickers. And then, after a shot or two of tequila, Annie comes up with an idea: Why not do something a little different? Why not flip on Jay's iPad and record themselves having sex? That should get things going again.
And, really, what's the harm? It's not like they'd accidentally upload it to the Internet or anything.
It may be hard to believe that Plugged In would have anything good to say about a movie called Sex Tape. But some of the underlying story truly isn't all bad.
Jay and Annie aren't just any ol' randy sexpots trying to goose their showbiz careers by showing off some skin. No, they're married randy sexpots, and they state repeatedly how much they love each other and their two kids. They don't regret having children. They don't point fingers at each other for their lack of physical affection (at least not that often). They simply know how much they used to enjoy sex, and they want to recapture the bonding intimacy and enjoyment. A noble and proper married pursuit, that.
And while their foray into amateur porn production goes abysmally wrong, through it all they still grow to appreciate each other more. Annie realizes that Jay would go to any length to protect her from shame and embarrassment. Jay rediscovers that Annie is both deeply caring and quite adventurous. "I just think you're really amazing," he says. And when they tell each other "I love you," they say it in a way that they've not really meant, or felt, in years.
Better yet, Jay and Annie discover that their relationship and love is predicated on far more than sex. And they're even told—by a slimy porn tycoon, no less—that sex tapes are often simply a salve used to cover up deep problems of intimacy. "It's what you do when you've lost track of why you're f---ing in the first place," he says.
Which, while the sentiment isn't horrible, is a fittingly obscene transition to the rest of this review.
Both Jay and Annie are seen naked for sizable chunks of the movie. Audiences see their bare bodies from the sides and rear, sometimes revealing quite a lot of them, often while they're noisily engaged in sex. One example: Jay stands on his head (his backside to the camera) while Annie tries to perform oral sex on him. And one more: Annie tries several times to do a gymnastics trick that culminates in sudden intercourse. (Jay seems to get hurt a couple of times.)
The sex scenes involving all manner of sexual positioning, motions and sounds are unremitting, taking place everywhere from a library to car seats to showers to the great outdoors. During and in between, too, the two talk frankly about sex and each other's bodies. The camera loiters on several of the explicit illustrations found in the book The Joy of Sex as the couple jokes about the pubic hair in the pictures.
Porn site images on a computer screen, meanwhile, include mostly undressed participants put in sexual poses. We hear the dirty names of a host of porn producers. And a porn site owner says his site receives 1,000 new image uploads every day. Jay admits to Annie that he sometimes watches porn. Annie says she does too. Annie also writes a raunchy blog about marital intimacy, pining for the sexually active days of her (unmarried) youth with Jay. The word erection is paired with video of Jay's expanding trousers or bed covers.
Annie and Jay's friends, Robby and Tess, watch the sex tape after it "escapes"; they have sex in an SUV. Rob tries several times to keep a copy of the video. The digital file also falls into the hands of their underage son, who remarks that he "enjoyed" it.
When they're wearing clothes, Jay and Annie are sometimes immodest, with one of Annie's tight, thin tops clearly showing that she's not wearing a bra. Jay dons a pair of Speedo-like underwear and a strange loincloth. Others also dress provocatively. Graphic references are made to sexting, allusions to homosexual sex and sex with food. Someone brandishes an large dildo as a weapon.
Jay has a long, bloody, limp-inducing encounter with a German Shepherd. The dog chases him around a palatial house, biting his calf, shoulder and face, getting knocked out twice for its efforts. Man and beast finally plunge out a second-story window.
Jay, in an effort to prevent further embarrassment, falls off a balcony and crushes his computer. (We later see him with his leg in a cast and with an ice pack under his jaw.) He accidentally pulls Annie off a bed, hurting her tailbone and slamming his own head against a closet wall. He smashes a computer server with a bat. There are threats of thrashings.
Crude or Profane Language
One c-word, about 65 f-words and some 25 s-words. Other profanities, naturally, are also used, including "a--," "b--ch" and "h---." Several crass or obscene slang terms for various body parts are spit out. God's name is misused at least 30 times, two or three times with "d--n." Jesus' name is abused twice.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Annie's potential employer encourages her to snort some cocaine with him. She reluctantly agrees, and then spends the next several minutes speaking incredibly rapidly and sincerely. People drink wine, Scotch and tequila (the latter to the point of drunkenness).
Other Negative Elements
Someone tries to blackmail Jay and Annie. Annie lies to her would-be boss, telling him Jay desperately needs to use the bathroom because of diarrhea (adding colorful descriptors). A kid complains that his sister is sticking her finger in her butt "again." She responds by wiping her hand on his shirt.
God created sex for not just procreation but also bonding and enjoyment within the bounds of marriage. But He didn't mean for the rest of us to watch.
See, there's a reason why the words sex and intimacy are so closely connected: Sex is supposed to be intimate. Private. Between a man and his wife. And while Jay and Annie may not want their personal sexual exploits shared with the world—a point they make quite clear—Sony Pictures certainly wants to visually (and explicitly) share their comedic sex caper with as many paying customers as possible.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Cameron Diaz as Annie; Jason Segel as Jay; Rob Corddry as Robby; Ellie Kemper as Tess; Rob Lowe as Hank; Nat Faxon as Max; Nancy Lenehan as Linda; Giselle Eisenberg as Nell; Harrison Holzer as Howard; Sebastian Hedges Thomas as Clive
Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story; Orange County)
July 18, 2014
Paul Asay Paul Asay