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Sex Tape - Film Review

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by Damsel Martin (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer, blogger and animal wrangler living in Brisbane's western suburbs. Many of my stories offer great giveaways to readers - subscribe to hear about them first.
Published July 19th 2014
Suburban skin flick sparks a nightmare in the cloud
sex tape movie cameron diaz
Scandal awaits with Sex Tape. Image courtesy Sony Pictures.

It's an ironic bit of casting, this, inserting Rob Lowe into a movie called Sex Tape. Back in 1988, a leaked videotape of Lowe having sex with two women, one of whom was underage, caused incalculable damage to his career - and ushered in the era of the celebrity sex tape. Fast forward more than two decades, past the honeymoon of Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee, and Paris Hilton's fling with Rick Salomon. Then throw in the ease of digital recording and you have Sex Tape - which is not so much a tape as an MP4, but I think we can all agree that the latter doesn't have quite the same ring to it.

The preposterous premise of Sex Tape is that Annie (Cameron Diaz) and Jay (Jason Segel) are a suburban couple who've come to the realisation that having kids has put quite the crimp in their sex life. So, to spice things up, they decide to digitally record themselves trying out every position in The Joy of Sex. As you do. They're dozing off after this three-hour marathon when Annie issues Jay with a sleepy reminder to delete the footage.

Jay, of course, forgets. The subsequent arrival of a sinister text ('Enjoyed your video. Thanks for sharing. Xoxo') reveals that a rogue syncing app has shared the file with devices belonging to family and friends - and God knows who else. That moment signals the start of the quest to recover the video and prevent it being seen by friends, potential colleagues including the CEO of toy company Piper Bros Hank (Rob Lowe) and the world at large.

Gathering a bit of momentum at this point, the Sex Tape plot grinds on, taking the increasingly frantic couple to their friends' homes, to a search of Hank's house, to a ram-raid of a porn website's server room. There are some genuinely funny moments of high farce in this Jake Kasdan-directed film, with its silly, simple premise mined for laughs.

But there was potential for Sex Tape to be so much more than bubblegum for the brain. A couple of times, it seemed as though the film was about to flirt with the bigger issues of privacy and intimacy in our digital world. For example, when Jay begins to explore the idea that perhaps having one's video uploaded to a streaming site isn't the worst thing that could happen, Sex Tape darts away once more for a few easy laughs. And the backstory to Lowe's self-mocking appearance and how attitudes have shifted in the years since his scandal would be lost on most 20- and 30-somethings in the audience.

What's lacking in Sex Tape was the weight of consequences. The worst thing that happens to Annie and Jay before all copies of their video are deleted is that their best friends are turned on by the footage and copulate in their car. (Yeah, I know, gross, but in the overall scheme of things, not so bad.) Yet as the truly awful rise of revenge porn has illustrated, digital files can last a lot longer than lust or love, and they aren't always as easily erased.
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*Damsel Martin was invited as a guest
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Why? A farcical spot of fun
When: Now Showing
Where: In cinemas
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