This week, Cineast looks a look at Sex Tape and Zach Braff’s Wish I Was Here.
Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz star in this comic romp about the two least understood facets of human life: sex and computers. Segal and Diaz play Jay and Annie, a married couple with two kids who, 10 years into their marriage, seem to need a little something to reinvigorate their sex life. So, using an iPad (product placement?) they make a sex tape—a three-hour long computer video of themselves performing every sex act in the manual. Then, the rest of Sex Tape involves Jay and Annie’s desperate struggle to prevent their video from going public: you see, in a twist that seems all too plausible, Jay has managed to accidentally upload the video to “the cloud,” that nebulous place that’s not quite the web but not quite private either, and it turns out that all of their friends and family have become privy to their activity. How to remove this scandalous content from “the cloud” before it reaches “the web” proves tricky—let’s face it, does anybody really understand how any of this stuff works?
Wish I Was Here
Hollywood has an ongoing ambivalence toward male immaturity. On the one hand, it does a big business producing the overblown action and/or sci-fi films that provide support for childlike fantasies that persist well into adulthood, fantasies that can seem to trap some men in a state of arrested development. Likewise it produces any number of narratives that suggest that giving up on dreams is tantamount to giving up on life. On the other hand, Hollywood also frequently makes lower budget films that impugn immature men for being in thrall to the very childlike fantasies that it wants them to indulge in. Films that disparage the dreamers. Wish I Was Here is an example of this other type of film. Zach Braff plays Aidan Bloom, a struggling actor with a rich fantasy life who allows his family to depend on the earnings of his tolerant wife Sarah—played by Kate Hudson. This has worked out okay so far, as Aidan’s widowed father Saul, played by Mandy Patinkin, has been picking up the slack by paying for Aidan’s kids’ education. But when daddy’s money dries up, maybe it’s time for Aidan to finally grow up. Instead of knuckling under and getting a job like everybody else, though, Aidan tries to salvage his fantasy world by attempting to home-school his children in a way that will allow his dreams to survive. Misadventure upon misadventure is the inevitable result. Here, the failure of Aidan to grow up is treated as a problem. Maybe it is, but isn’t it an example of Hollywood’s usual lessons being learned too well?