Friday, November 7, 2014

"Sex Tape," A Raunchy Comedy Without Much Raunch or Comedy

Is Jason Segel playing older of Cameron Diaz playing younger? 
It’s getting harder and harder for me to watch blandly mediocre movies. If a film is  mediocre but has something interesting going on (acting, action, dialouge, editing, cinematography, anything) – cool. Hell, even if a film totally doesn’t work but really goes for it or has some worthwhile element – cool.

But movies like Sex Tape? Not cool.

Sex Tape is a would-be raunchy comedy from director Jake Kasdan that stars Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel as a married couple that looks to rekindle their sex life by making a sex tape, only to send it out to a number of friends and family due to a convoluted plot built around i-syncing. This is a return to formula of sorts – Kasdan last directed this duo in the successful Bad Teacher, a middling raunchy comedy that at least had to good conscience to be intermittently funny and charming.

This film has no such conscience. There’s nothing all that awful about Sex Tape, but the characterizations are surface level, the resolution is hooey and the comedy aspects just don’t hit at all. Although the particulars are different, the whole thing plays like a poor-man's version of Date Night, which was sort of a poor man's version of True Lies (or any number of movies built around a marriage vastly improving after a night of hijinks).

It’s a frustrating film, because the script has been partially credited to Segel and Nicholas Stoller, two funny and emotionally resonant collaborators who, even at their worst (The Five-Year Engagement), have been far more hit than miss.

A strong correlation can be made here between Sex Tape and a real sex tape. It probably seemed like a better idea during the planning stages, and it was likely a lot more fun to make the thing than it is to watch it. D

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Hardy Makes the Modest "Locke" A Compelling Ride

Locke is a film entirely set in a car.
Locke is 84 minutes in a car with one character who makes a series of phone calls during a long drive to London. That’s it – that’s the extent of the movie – so it's kind of hard to review.

I suppose many people would call the film experimental, but it’s a pretty straightforward domestic drama about a guy who made a mistake and is now paying the piper in an attempt to do the right thing.

Ivan Locke (Tom Hardy) is foreman who is supposed to be supervising a historically big concrete pour in Birmingham, but has instead decided to travel all the way to London to be with a colleague he knocked up during a one-night stand because she has gone into premature labor. This decision puts him in a perilous situation at with his bosses and work associates, not to mention his wife and kids, all of whom he spends time talking to on the phone during his life-altering drive.

Given the constraints of the plot, the movie hangs entirely on Hardy’s shoulders, and he’s more than up for the task. Although he’s best known for live-wire performances in the likes of Bronson and The Dark Knight Rises, Hardy easily inhabits this regular guy, somehow making Ivan compelling by remaining calm and systematically in control even as his life spins wildly out of control.

Locke is a modest film, the kind that nobody’s bound to put on a top ten list, or much remember five, ten years from now. Although it’s an interesting watch that maintains a palpable tension throughout, it’s mostly a well-done exercise that’s fated to be resume padding for Hardy and writer/director Steven Knight. B-