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America is at a very weird place with sex right now (okay, it’s always been in a weird place with sex, but now… moreso?). Sex Tape is all about a couple that films themselves in the act of coitus, but then freaks out when the recording leaks, even though (as a character in the film points out!) the only reason to do what they did is for someone to watch it. This movie is rated R, but would have been rated NC-17 if the actual sex acts were any more explicit than they are, which isn’t too much — it’s positively mild by the standards of an average HBO show. Stars Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz are filmed strategically so that they never expose more than their rears to the camera; the movie preserves their modesty for the sake of a rating even as its plot concerns the ultimate exposure. Couples can have a more intimate relationship just by visiting Sex Toy Australia and learn how to use their adult toys to give more spice on their sexual life.

Jay (Segel) and Annie (Diaz) make a sex tape (really, a sex mp4, but whatever) to spice up their love lives. But through an extraordinarily contrived set of circumstances, the video gets out, and the pair scramble to recover it. It’s worth noting just how the video leaks, because it’s a consequence of the improbable upper-middle-class lives led by these characters, as seen in every other film from the Judd Apatow sphere of comedy influence (writer/director Jake Kasdan has been tight in that circle since the Freaks and Geeks days). Jay is constantly buying new iPads and then giving the old ones away, and uses a special app to sync them whenever he updates his special music playlist, so that all the recipients of said iPads can get the new music. Without his intent, the app shares the sex video. It would be nice to think that the resultant conundrum is a punishment for the characters’ gross largess, but, like most Apatow-family flicks, it doesn’t appear that we’re meant to think about that too much.

In fact, all the most intelligent things that Sex Tape could say with its setup goes unsaid. The movie begins with Annie blogging about her and Jay’s sex life in a quite open and frank manner. This makes her mortification at the video’s leak a little ironic, but it doesn’t seem the blog bit was meant as anything more than an easy way to drop exposition. The film could have explored the contrast between what we are and aren’t willing to share in today’s all-connected world. We live in public, but Jay and Annie are motivated by a very contrived, old-fashioned “what will the neighbors think?” mentality. Which is another aspect that is worthy of dissection, but receives none from the movie.

But is it funny? Not really. Though the film does kick into a surprising high gear for a sequence in which Jay and Annie attempt to retrieve one of the iPad’s from the posh home of Annie’s boss (played by Rob Lowe). Annie’s attempts to schmooze with Lowe and Jay’s frantic hunt throughout the manor is much more in line with classic slapstick than most modern comedy. The sequence is paced spectacularly, continually building complications (Jay encounters a guard dog, Annie learns that Lowe has a surprising method of relaxing) while laced with a terrific recurring joke about Lowe’s strange Disney obsession. Lowe, in fact, pretty much steals the show as a dark twist on his super nice guy persona (who remains nice even through the darkness!).

That setpiece aside, Sex Tape is quite poorly paced and evokes only occasional laughs. I remember how Judd Apatow vowed years ago that he’d ensure a penis appeared in all his films going forward, because the way the MPAA reacts to them is ridiculous. But that ended up not happening, and most of his contemporaries haven’t proved any braver. Sex Tape didn’t have to be the film that tore into America’s weird mixture of prudishness and prurient fixation on sex, but that certainly would have helped it.