Reel Critics: Don't bother rewinding this 'Tape'

Given its bawdy premise and R rating, you might think "Sex Tape" would deliver naked humor and raucous laughter.

But the interesting start turns lame, tame and strange as the plot rolls on. Mixed messages are everywhere. Scenes including really nasty talk about Internet porn are comingled with talk of warmhearted lessons about life and love. Say what?

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel do a respectable job playing a couple who met in college. As young lovers, they embark on many sexual adventures. But their amorous activities are depicted as comedy exploits without any sensual heat. Once they marry and have kids, the spark dies and they yearn to reignite their once-hot flame.

The couple's decision to film themselves having sex delivers a lot of explicit language with little visual stimulation. The accidental emailing to family and friends of the sex tape sets off a desperate effort to retrieve it, and the silly and shallow escapades that follow destroy most of the humor offered by the witty premise.

This movie is amusing at first and quite ridiculous by the end. It's all too nasty for kids and too childish for adults. "Sex Tape" belongs in the cinematic limbo it creates for itself.

—John Depko


A long coming of age

Richard Linklater came up with a unique concept for "Boyhood" in chronicling one family's stories and using the same actors over a period of 12 years. The actors and characters grow up seamlessly before our very eyes.

Linklater, who has earned raves for "Before Sunrise" and its sequels, has written and directed a naturalistic, intimate portrait of ordinary people. While I admire his ambition, it doesn't always make for soul-stirring drama — especially at nearly three hours.

Mason Jr. (Ellar Coltrane) and older sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater, the director's daughter) are being raised by their mom, Olivia (Patricia Arquette). Mason Sr. (Ethan Hawke) has been away in Alaska but returns to Texas to reacquaint himself with the kids and possibly his ex.

Mason Jr. and Samantha seem wise beyond their years, no doubt because of their parents' life choices. Yet they still have an innocence to shield them even when in serious jeopardy.

Coltrane, in nearly every scene as he stretches from baby fat to lanky, is exceptional. Hawke is terrific as a man-child who finally gets what being a parent is all about and does it beautifully.

"Boyhood" lagged for me in the last hour when Mason turns moody teenager. Not wanting to conform, resenting rules and guidelines, questioning one's purpose in life — these are real issues we have all struggled with. Yet my attention span was dwindling, and I could have been at the mall across the street. Some things never change.

Or perhaps I just wanted the movie to fast-forward another 12 years. If Linklater decides to do a (brief) sequel, count me in.

—Susanne Perez

JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.

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