The Internet, it has been said, is a series of tubes. So is the human body. The intersection of these two systems — each one sticky, nasty and fascinating in its own special way — is a fact of daily life and also the subject of “Sex Tape,” a new R-rated comedy starring Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz.
Don’t get your hopes up. Or maybe I should say don’t worry. Because in spite of a title that evokes everything tawdry and salacious in contemporary on-line culture (at least circa 2007), in spite of a steady cascade of obscene language, and in spite of a naked buttock here and there, “Sex Tape,” directed by Jake Kasdan, is as wholesome as a spoonful of nonfat Greek yogurt. If you are expecting a movie that finds humor in squirming embarrassment and that touches modern anxieties about the loss of privacy and the technological exploitation of the libido, you might be disappointed. But then again, maybe you’d just prefer to stay home with your laptop in the first place, doing research.
Mr. Segel and Ms. Diaz, long-limbed and likable, play Jay and Annie, a married couple who spent their years as college sweethearts in a frenzy of copulation. The actors, 34 (Mr. Segel) and 41 (Ms. Diaz),play their characters’ younger selves with what look like digitally smoothed faces, to somewhat creepy, “Benjamin Button”-like effect. A pair of kids (Sebastian Hedges Thomas and Giselle Eisenberg) and other tokens of adult responsibility have cooled things down between them, a situation Annie and Jay decide to remedy with the help of a bottle of tequila, a new iPad and an old copy of “The Joy of Sex.”
The resulting video — a three-hour acrobatic extravaganza, highlights of which are shared with the movie audience — ascends into the cloud and migrates to a handful of other tablets. Annie and Jay need to get them. The plausibility of this circumstance was recently tested by Lauren Bans, an intrepid GQ writer who made a phone call to Apple tech support. If Jay or Annie had done that, “Sex Tape” would have been quite a lot shorter. One reason for the R rating might be to spare digitally native kids the mortification of seeing how clueless their parents can be.
But let’s not pick nits. The movie, written by Kate Angelo, Nicholas Stoller and Mr. Segel, also asks us to believe that Annie is on the verge of selling her blog about motherhood for big money, a plot point that inspired raucous (if largely mirthless) laughter from the press rows at my screening. Jay, in case you were wondering, works at a radio station, exactly the kind of cool, vague job that comedy husbands tend to have these days and one that sort of explains why so many people have iPads connected to his.
Those are the ones he and Annie need to retrieve in a hurry. “Sex Tape” is one of those against-the-clock panic movies — like “Horrible Bosses” or “Date Night” — that string together a set of nutty circumstances featuring kooky supporting players. Mr. Segel gallops through a mansion, chased by an angry German shepherd, which is not all that funny, while Ms. Diaz snorts cocaine with Rob Lowe, which is. Rob Corddry and Ellie Kemper are wacky friends along for the ride. Jack Black shows up just when things start running out of gas. Ms. Diaz and Mr. Segel sustain the whole thing with the bright energy of foul-mouthed, anatomically detailed Muppets.