Wow, that’s embarrassing. Not the humiliation suffered by the protagonists of the Cameron Diaz-Jason Segel farce “Sex Tape,” but the movie’s box office grosses.
Pundits expected the reunion of the “Bad Teacher” leads and director Jake Kasdan to open with around $ 23 million this weekend. Instead, it debuted with a weak estimated $ 15.0 million, settling for fourth place, behind the returning victor “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” and two more new releases.
What went wrong with the seemingly surefire comedy? You can chalk a lot of its problems up to bad timing, but there were other issues, too. For instance:
Who was it for? That anachronistic title offers a clue. After all, nobody makes a sex “tape” anymore, including Diaz and Segel’s characters; the joke is that the couple’s risqué home movie was shot digitally and leaked via the Cloud. So people too young to remember videocassettes may not have been part of the target audience. Certainly, people under 17 were not part of the audience, since the movie comes honestly by its R rating. So that doesn’t leave much of a demographic.
Familiarity breeds contempt. This is the fifth R-rated comedy this summer and the second Cameron Diaz sex farce. Could be that audiences are tired of this sort of thing, except that “Neighbors” and “Tammy” are still in the top 10. Still, that’s a sign that the raunchy-comedy market is oversaturated and didn’t have room for one more.
Women went to see ‘The Purge: Anarchy.” You might have expected a Diaz comedy like this to draw more women than men, as “The Other Woman” did. Unfortunately, women were drawn instead to the new horror film “The Purge: Anarchy.” Horror films have performed weakly this year, but they still tend to draw more women than men; indeed, according to exit polls, “Purge” drew an audience that was 52 percent female. Also, “Anarchy” did better than many of this year’s horror films (an estimated $ 28.4 million debut, good for second place), in part because it was a much-anticipated sequel to last year’s surprise-hit franchise-launcher.
Parents took their kids to see “Planes: Fire and Rescue.” Again, you might have expected a slightly older couples’ audience for “Sex Tape,” but a lot of those couples are parents who would have spent this weekend’s movie money taking the kids to see the new Disney animated sequel. In fact, it opened in third place with an estimated $ 18.0 million.
Everyone else went to see “Apes.” Last week’s chart-topper, “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” lost 50 percent of its business and still finished in first place with an estimated $ 36.0 million. And no one was surprised. After all, “Apes” enjoys demographic appeal across the board. Plus, it had strong reviews. “Sex Tape,” on the other hand…
Uh, it wasn’t that good. Reviews were poor, which is a problem when you’re trying to attract an older audience that actually still reads reviews. Word-of-mouth was bad, too, with the film earning a weak C+ grade at CinemaScore.
One paradox of the weekend is that “Sex Tape” was the only new wide release with an original premise. Indeed, it’s the only movie in the top nine besides “Tammy” that’s not a sequel or reboot. So it might have been able to overcome all the bad timing of its summer scheduling niche — if it had been a better movie.
Photo courtesy Sony
Gallery | A History of Embarrassing, Awkward Sex Moments in Movies (NSFW)
- ‘M*A*S*H’ (1970)
The long-running sitcom never explained how Major Margaret Houlihan earned the nickname “Hot Lips.” For that, you have to go back to the Robert Altman movie, in which Margaret (Sally Kellerman) and Major Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) are in the throes of passion before they realize that camp pranksters have placed a microphone beneath their tent and are broadcasting their moans and dirty talk to the entire 4077th.
- ‘Bananas’ (1971)
Legendary sportscaster Howard Cosell manages to keep a straight face as he does color commentary on the consummation of Fielding’s (Woody Allen) marriage to Nancy (real-life Allen ex-wife Louise Lasser). He sticks around for the post-game interview, making Fielding defend his subpar performance.
- ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ (1978)
Freshman Pinto’s (Tom Hulce) first time isn’t very romantic. He gets grocery check-out girl Clorette (Sarah Holcomb) alone at a frat party, but he can’t get her bra undone. She removes it herself but then passes out, leaving a puzzled Pinto holding wads of tissue. His inner angel and devil argue over his shoulder, but he decides against taking advantage of the girl and drops her off at home in (aptly) a shopping cart. Later, of course, Pinto and Clorette will finally hook up, but he’ll discover that she’s underage, and she’ll introduce him to her dad, the town mayor, as “the boy who molested me.”
- ‘The Tall Guy’ (1989)
Before making his name with romantic-comedy screenplays like “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Notting Hill,” Richard Curtis wrote this farce about an American actor (Jeff Goldblum) in London who woos a starchy nurse (Emma Thompson, not yet famous). Their room-destroying sex scene, which sees the crash into every available surface, may not be all that embarrassing (though neither actor has done anything so risqué before or since), but it gives the similarly acrobatic and funny scene in “Bridesmaids” a run for its money.
- ‘The Crying Game’ (1992)
After inadvertently causing the death of a British soldier, IRA member Fergus (Stephen Rea) flees to London and takes up with the dead man’s lover, Dil (Jaye Davidson). It’s only when they’re about to have sex for the first time that Dil disrobes and reveals to Fergus (and many a shocked moviegoer) that she’s anatomically male. It’s humiliating for Dil, who assumed her new beau knew the truth, and for Fergus, who becomes violently ill.
- ‘Showgirls’ (1995)
Here’s a mystery: Elizabeth Berkley’s mostly naked performance as viciously ambitious Vegas chorus girl Nomi pretty much derailed her career forever, thanks in large part to the swimming pool sex scene, where she flops around like an angry dolphin. And yet Kyle MacLachlan, her equally soggy partner in the scene, emerged with his career unscathed. Guess it was just an embarrassment for Berkley — and the audience.
- ‘The Ice Storm’ (1997)
There’s a lot of queasy-making sex in this drama of the key-party-swinging, suburban ’70s. But queasiest of all is the heavy petting session between teens Christina Ricci and Elijah Wood, which happens to take place while she’s wearing a latex Richard Nixon mask. Her dad (Kevin Kline) walks in on the pair, but he’s just as embarrassed as the kids, since he’s secretly sleeping with Wood’s mom (Sigourney Weaver).
- ‘There’s Something About Mary’ (1998)
Ben Stiller is the king of cinematic embarrassment, but after the by-product of his pre-date wank goes missing, it’s Cameron Diaz who makes the scene with her sweet naivete. Discovering the missing goo dripping from Stiller’s ear, she asks, “Is that… hair gel?”, then applies some to her own ‘do and winds up looking like a marshmallow Peep. This scene, more than any other, has made the screen safe for all the bodily-fluid humor we cherish today.
- ‘Can’t Hardly Wait’ (1998)
In every millennial’s favorite teen party movie, randy Seth Green (armed with a backpack full of condoms, a “Kama Sutra,” and other sex aids), is in the bathroom trying to remove an embarrassing wet spot from his pants with a hair dryer. In walks Lauren Ambrose, who’s just been hit in the face with a brownie. Mutual humiliation turns to panic when the door handle comes off and they’re locked inside. Then again, the two end up taking full advantage of the locked room and the sex paraphernalia, so maybe it wasn’t that humiliating after all.
- ‘American Pie’ (1999)
Yeah, Jason Biggs pulling an Alexander Portnoy with a freshly-baked pie (his friends have told him that a woman’s genitals feel like warm fruit filling) and being caught by his dad pretty much tops the embarrassment charts. But there’s also the scene where his premature ejaculation opposite a frustrated Shannon Elizabeth is webcast to the whole school, making “Pie” the first comedy to make the point that, in the Internet era, there’s no expectation of privacy anymore.
- ‘Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo’ (1999)
Having sex with Rob Schneider is probably embarrassment enough, but it’s even worse for Kate (Arija Bareikis), the nice girl who actually falls for rookie hustler Deuce (Schneider). While he actually manages to avoid having sex with a number of oddball clients (he’s resourceful enough to find alternate ways to please them), he’s actually eager to get in bed with Kate — until he accidentally detaches her prosthetic leg.
- ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ (2001)
What should Bridget (Renée Zellweger) wear on her date with bad-boy boss Daniel (Hugh Grant): the “granny” panties that are ugly but flatten her stomach, or the sexy panties that don’t hide her bulges. She goes for the former, only to earn Daniel’s ridicule when they do hop into bed. (Later, of course, she’s embarrassed just for having slept with a cad like Grant.
- ‘Old School’ (2003)
Luke Wilson comes home from a business trip to find girlfriend Juliette Lewis watching porn. She’s ashamed, but he’s turned on, until he realizes that they’re not alone — which he discovers when a couple of naked guests jump out of the closet. (There’s a third at the door, played by the film’s director, Todd Phillips.) There’s still more embarrassment to come, as Wilson recalls the incident in a drunken rant — while he’s toasting his newlywed pal Will Ferrell at the latter’s wedding.
- ‘Gigli’ (2004)
The low point of this notorious bomb comes when lesbian hitwoman Jennifer Lopez not only falls for lunkheaded chauvinist hitman Ben Affleck but seduces him into bed by making turkey noises. Gobble, gobble indeed. If this is how unsexy Bennifer were in real life, it’s no wonder the celebrity couple was doomed.
- ‘The 40-Year-Old Virgin’ (2005)
Really, nearly the whole of Judd Apatow’s movie is one embarrassing sex joke, but when it comes to actual bedroom action, it’s hard to top the scene where a younger Andy (Steve Carell) tried to indulge a woman’s toe-sucking fetish, only to involuntarily kick her in the face and bloody her nose. No wonder he remained a virgin for so long.
- ‘Knocked Up’ (2007)
In Judd Apatow’s comedy, the embarrassment occurs not during the drunken fumbling between Katherine Heigl and Seth Rogen, nor does it occur when Heigl realizes to her horror that she’s polluted her gene pool with Rogen’s. Rather, it’s later, when the two try to couple once more, with Heigl feeling disgusted by the changes pregnancy has wrought on her body, and Rogen trying in vain to find an angle that doesn’t remind him that he’s poking at his baby”s head.
- ‘Superbad’ (2007)
We might have gone for the scene where ultra-nerdy McLovin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) whispers, “It’s in!” but we’ll stick with the scene between Evan (Michael Cera) and Becca (Martha MacIsaac). She’s drunk, he’s nervous, she tries dirty talk, he keeps saying the wrong thing, and finally, she throws up. Plays funnier than it sounds. No surprise: Seth Rogen co-wrote this movie, and Judd Apatow produced it.
- ‘Shoot ‘Em Up’ (2007)
Clive Owen’s hotel-room tryst with Monica Bellucci is interrupted by gun-wielding thugs, but marksman Owen manages to take them out without taking himself out of Bellucci. Did we mention that she’s lactating? Nicolas Cage and Charlotte Ross copied this scene in “Drive Angry,” but despite the addition of a cattle prod, they couldn’t out-shock the original.
- ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ (2008)
In this Judd Apatow production, Jason Segel sets himself up for a movie’s worth of embarrassment when he greets his title girlfriend (Kristen Bell) naked, only to have her dump him while he’s still flopping about. Later, he hooks up with lovely hotel clerk Mila Kunis, but Sarah and her new rock star boyfriend (Russell Brand) are staying at the same Hawaiian resort — in the suite next door, in fact — so each couple tries to make louder sex noises to make the other pair jealous. It’s a gag that’s appeared in a number of films (notably, “L.A. Story” and “The Cooler”), but the “Forgetting” foursome milks it for all it’s worth.
- ‘Tiny Furniture’ (2010)
Before Lena Dunham was putting herself in awkward sex scenes on the Judd Apatow-produced series “Girls,” she wrote and directed this film, in which she plays another adrift twentysomething. Here, she seduces a guy who already has a girlfriend. The uncomfortable site of their tryst: a concrete construction pipe. Dunham finds further shame when the act is over and she realizes that it hasn’t made her feel any more fulfilled.
- ‘Bridesmaids’ (2011)
Turns out sex with Jon Hamm is more exhausting than fun, as is apparent from Kristen Wiig’s twisted body and even more twisted facial expressions. Plus, his sexy talk is not at all sexy (what’s “rocking the cradle,” anyway?). (Oh, and this is yet another Judd Apatow production.) Runner-up scene: Melissa McCarthy, real-life hubby Ben Falcone, and those slices of cold cuts.
- ‘Bad Teacher’ (2011)
You don’t need nudity for an embarrassing sex scene, as randy junior high teachers Cameron Diaz and Justin Timberlake prove during an epic, fully-clothed dry-hump session. Bonus point to the two real-life exes for being such good sports.
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