Jake Kasdan is to directing comedy what Friedrich Nietzsche is to baking apple strudel. Not much.
As with his Bad Teacher (2011), which also stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segal, Kasdan takes a promising concept and lays waste to it. The highly workable concept is a simple one: a sexually active couple, Jay (Segal) and Annie (Diaz), copulate like bunnies on ecstasy until they wed. Two precocious children later, the O in orgasms has moved on to the O on Cheerios boxes. He now is a music producer, I believe, and she blogs a column entitled "Who’s Yo Mommy?" Yes, copulation is no longer a spontaneous act for this duo. Instead, it has to be planned for ahead of time.
So one night, when the kids are at that grandmother’s, the pair try to get it on as they once used to, but to no avail, until Annie suggests Jay use his iPad to record them having sex. Deciding to enact every sexual position illustrated in Dr. Alex Comfort’s 1970s bestseller The Joy of Sex, with the aid of tequila, they make a three-hour sex tape, which Jay accidentally sends out to all of the people he has given free iPads to, including the mailman, his mother-in-law, and the neighbors. Even Annie’s future boss Hank (Rob Lowe) has one. Will they all see the tape? Will it go viral? Will Annie not get hired?
Think of the funny possibilities, then think of all the funny possibilities that could be missed. In fact, at the screening I attended, much of the film was greeted with a stone silence except by one sole woman from a site called thegirlattheparty.com, who was having a party unto herself. Who knows? This cordial dame might have had a yukfest at Schindler’s List.
Clearly, there is no comic rhythm here. Almost every comic setup falters. The verbal slapstick sputters. Each scene is overwritten and goes on for much too long, giving Hamlet a run for total wordage. And there is no logic to any of the goings-on. The couple is supposedly cash poor, yet Jay gives away free iPods to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. As for Diaz’s body, it clearly doesn’t belong to someone who has had two children and no time for the gym. Then there are the subplots with Jack Black as a porno king and a chubby blackmailing child of a neighbor that just fall flat due to overextending the bit in the former and miscasting in the latter.
On the plus side, Diaz and Segal are total likable leads, who are convincingly wed. Now if they can only get a divorce from Kasdan and his co-writers Kate Angelo and Nicholas Stoller, all would be bliss. - Brandon Judell
Mr. Judell is currently teaching "Theatre into Film" and "The Arts in New York City" at The City College of New York and is Coordinator of The Simon H. Rifkind Center. He has written on film for The Village Voice, indieWire.com, the New York Daily News, Soho Style, and The Advocate, and is anthologized in Cynthia Fuchs's Spike Lee Interviews (University Press of Mississippi) and John Preston's A Member of the Family (Dutton). He is also a member of the performance/writing group FlashPoint.