Mommy bloggers are deranged sex maniacs. No, that’s not right. Mom bloggers are foul-mouthed neglectful matriarchs who exploit their families in hopes of financial gain. No, that’s not right either. There are so many ways the message of the new film Sex Tape could have gone wrong but didn’t. Sex Tape hits the mark with realism and desperation that no married person leaving this film can ignore.
Last week I went to the advance screening of Sex Tape, directed by Jake Kasdan, to prepare for my interview with Cameron Diaz, Jason Segel, and Jake Kasdan the next morning. I expected a funny movie about a couple whose home sex tape accidentally gets uploaded to the cloud and the misadventures that result from them trying to delete it. I hadn’t been expecting such a thought-provoking film with a truth-capturing message.
Read my interview with Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel: Sex Tape Movie Q & A
In portraying the essence of a married mommy blogger with a busy family and professional life, writers Kate Angelo, Jason Segel & Nicholas Stoller dug deep to present a real picture of this uncharted profession.
There are two possible extremes when creating this portrait:
1- Play up the wife’s dark side with extreme ambition, greed, sexual aggression, exploiting her family for money, crudeness, not getting along with her husband, and setting a bad example for her children.
2- Play up the wife’s sweet side with extreme passiveness, Betty Crocker-ness, lack of interest in sex, complete focus on her family with a choice to not have a career or any professional endeavors, innocence, and dedicating her time to only her husband’s interests.
Sex Tape used neither of these stereotypes, but instead created a very real woman blogger and married couple that anyone could relate to. It’s not easy to work when you have children. It’s not easy to keep a strong romantic connection with your spouse when you have children. The challenge for today’s men and women is not to fall prey to the busy atmosphere of grown-up responsibilities to the detriment of your fun-loving romantic relationship.
Sex Tape: The Good
Jason told me in the interview that he hoped people came away from the movie laughing about the funny parts but also having a real discussion about their sex life and making their relationship a priority. He hit the mark 100% with his writing and performance.
We laugh with them, we feel desperate with them. The audience really goes for a ride with Jay and Annie for better and for worse.
Sex Tape is hilarious. The sex tape itself is only about 4 minutes of the film (no frontal nudity is shown and no – there isn’t really any sex) but the costumes Jay (played by Jason Segel) and Annie (played by Cameron Diaz) wear in their video and the skits they act out are laugh-out-loud funny! If you have apprehension about seeing the movie because of the name, get over it. You shouldn’t allow the name Sex Tape to keep you from getting the moral of the story, which is as far from sexual as you can get.
I loved the message of this movie and how the portrayal of the husband and wife was right on. This isn’t a stereotypical couple, with a perfect marriage that shows no wear and tear. They aren’t g-rated either (they swear, drink, watch porn, etc.) but they are good people who really love each other.
Annie is presented as a real mom who has professional dreams of her own beyond just being a wife and raising children. She expresses the conflict and guilt she feels about wanting things for herself and trying to balance her own desires with her family responsibilities.
I also applaud the accurate portrayal of Annie’s image dilemma: she wants to be true to herself and to her readers by posting honestly (as with the post about the state of her sex life), while at the same time she is under pressure to censor her truth because Piper Bros. wants only the happy/clean/wholesome side of her to show. She also has to consider that when she blogs about her relationship, she’s giving away intimate details about her husband that he may not want known publicly.
This inner battle of a mother, wife and blogger between honesty-in-all-its-shades and best-face-forward is so purely captured by the film that it could not have been written or acted better.
Jay and Annie are happily married and well into adulthood with 2 children. He runs a radio station, she is a mom blogger, they are loving parents with busy careers who manage to have time for the PTA, loving their kids and loving each other. Sounds perfect, right?
At the outset, we get a glimpse into Annie’s insights on the state of her relationship from the blog post she’s writing about the remembering first time she and her husband saw each other naked. Here is a clip of the blog post that starts the film:
She is in the middle of a discussion with Piper Bros., a corporation headed by Hank (played by Rob Lowe), to acquire her blog. They want Annie to be the female face of their brand and are adamant about her having a squeaky clean image in keeping with their brand’s image. They are concerned about the last blog post about her sex life, but make it clear that if that kind of content is ruled out, their partnership is likely to go forward.
Jay and Annie’s morning routine has them both rushing to work and meetings, shuffling the transportation of the kids to school, and mentioning in passing that they’d really like to have sex sometime soon. We hear about how they’ve been thinking about the fact that they haven’t been intimate for some time but that they’ve both been too busy to do anything about it or – for that matter – even bring it up.
For a spontaneous celebration of her pending blog sale, Annie decides to send the kids to grandma’s house and surprise Jay with a romantic evening of sex. She dresses up in roller skates and a skimpy outfit to hint at what’s to come, but the roller skates prove to be too dangerous as she slips and falls hard onto the floor. Undeterred, they try for their spontaneous evening of lovemaking but find that they are both thinking of other things (kids, work, etc.) and it’s just too hard to focus on each other.
After nearly giving up, Annie suggests that they do all the positions in The Joy of Sex book and videotape their session on Jay’s iPad as something new and different. This requires that they drink shots to get up their courage, but they finally succeed in making a 3 hour video of their attempt.
Everything is fine until the next day when Jay receives an anonymous text saying that they liked his video. Because of Jay’s advanced syncing software app, the video uploaded itself to the cloud and to all the iPads Jay has ever given as gifts to their friends, family, the CEO of Piper Bros., and even their mailman.
Jay and Annie start rushing to not only find out who is sending the anonymous texts but also to recover all the gifted iPads and delete the sex video before anyone else watches it.
** SPOILER ALERT **
They find out that the texts are from their best friends’ teenage son, Howard, who has uploaded the sex tape to a site called YouPorn and will publish it the next day unless they pay him $25,000.
Meanwhile, they go to Hank’s house and try to find the iPad they’ve given him, while Annie is shocked at Hank’s un-squeaky clean image and Jay is mauled by the guard dog.
In an attempt to thwart Howard’s blackmail scheme, they break into YouPorn’s office to destroy their servers. After crashing their vehicle into the building, they sneak into the building with their 2 children in the middle of the night and set off the security alarms. YouPorn’s owner (played by surprise guest Jack Black) shows up and confronts Jay and Annie, believing them to be spies and saboteurs from a competing company.
It’s only because of the fact that Black’s wife reads Annie’s blog that he agrees not to press charges. He agrees to take down the video and the rush is on to make it to their son’s graduation in a few short hours. Jay and Annie come together as a team and realize that it was never about the video, but about being honest and connected with each other and really making their relationship a priority.
**END OF SPOILERS**
Sex Tape: The Bad
Obviously, Sex Tape is an R-rated movie and not meant for children or families. That said, there are some elements in the movie I felt were not necessary and could have been left out.
Language: There is a lot of gratuitous swearing in the film that was not integral to the storyline or the dialogue. The most common language: F-bombs, lots of them. If you’ve ever seen a Judd Apetow film, you’ll know the level of constant swearing you can expect in Sex Tape. I don’t have a problem with Jay and Annie swearing, because it lends to the realness of their characters. But the sheer amount of swearing was unrealistic and, at some points, actually took away from the story because it was just too distracting.
Teen language: Howard, a young teen in the movie, drops a lot of F-bombs in talking to Jay. Jay also swears at the teen. This placed me in a spot of uncomfortability, because even though he’s an actor, he’s still a child to me.
Drug use: Annie uses drugs in one scene with the CEO of Piper Bros. I was really shocked that it happened because it seemed out of character for her. It also seemed like such a major thing that it couldn’t have really been trivialized later in the movie.
Sex Tape opens in theaters July 18.
FTC: This is NOT a sponsored post. Advanced screening and press junket were provided to Danelle Ice as a member of the press courtesy of Columbia Pictures and Sony.