Cameron Diaz reunites with 'Bad Teacher' director for 'Sex Tape'

Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) in

Jay (Jason Segel) and Annie (Cameron Diaz) in Columbia Pictures' "Sex Tape." (Credit: Claire Folger)

They may call it the World Wide Web, but when personal stuff goes viral, the degree of embarrassment/damage can vary by ZIP code.

In 2009, a Georgia teacher had to resign after she put a photo of herself holding a glass of wine and a glass of beer on her Facebook page.

In 2011, a California barista lost his job for uploading an anti-Starbucks song to YouTube.

Last week, an Ohio waitress was fired for posting bad things about bad tippers.

And during the past two decades, Hollywood wannabes have achieved fame, fortune and cable TV series for having sex on the Internet.

Nothing is more suspicious than a sex "scandal" involving people you've never heard of. On the other hand, nothing provokes state-of-the-art schadenfreude like real people having their embarrassing behavior circulated via social media.

Somewhere out of the middle of this mixed-media muddle rises "Sex Tape," director Jake ("Bad Teacher") Kasdan's new comedy, which opens Friday and, like most cutting-edge romantic comedies, has something horrifying about it.

Annie and Jay (Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel) have a decade-long marriage, two kids, and the feeling that their relationship is running out of juice. So they decide they will try out every position in "The Joy of Sex," and record the effort -- but not necessarily for posterity.

In the morning, they discover they've lost control of their three-hour production. They head off in hot pursuit.

Who comes up with this stuff? Screenwriter Kate Angelo, who wrote "The Back-Up Plan" (2010) as well as episodes of "Will & Grace" and "The Bernie Mac Show"; screenwriter Nicholas Stoller ("Muppets Most Wanted," "The Five-Year Engagement"). And Segel, recently of "How I Met Your Mother," who has been involved with a raft of projects produced and/or directed by Syosset's Judd Apatow, who made his major breakthrough into TV comedy with the much-lamented "Freaks and Geeks," which is where he met Kasdan, a writer-director on that show.

Together, they made "Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story," directed by Kasdan and starring John C. Reilly. And "The TV Set" with David Duchovny, during which Filmmaker magazine asked Kasdan -- who grew up in Hollywood as the son of "Big Chill"/"Silverado"/"Grand Canyon" director Lawrence Kasdan -- whether sticking with the same people was a way of keeping Hollywood out of his business.

"It's a combination of that, and the fact that I really like working with those guys," he said. "They're really good friends of mine, and those friendships are born of collaborations. A lot of us from 'Freaks and Geeks' have continued to work together a lot; me with Judd a lot, and also with Mike White on 'Orange County.' I love working with those guys."

He likes working with the same actors, too: Both Diaz and Segel were in Kasdan's "Bad Teacher," as was "Sex Tape" co-star Rob Corddry. Ellie Kempner, who's also in "Sex Tape," was in the Apatow-produced "Bridesmaids," as well as "Get Him to The Greek," which was directed by Stoller and co-written by Stoller and Segel. Untangling the incestuous nest of interconnecting ties among all these Apatow-linked comedies would require charts, maps and DNA testing. It's all very intimate.

But not as intimate as what is about to spill out over the Internet in "Sex Tape," which is about a situation no one should ever get into, and yet so many have -- including Rob Lowe, whose 1988 incident is the granddaddy of celebrity hotel-room-movie scandals and who is also in "Sex Tape."

Others with sex tapes? It's an eclectic group: Pamela Anderson of "Baywatch" fame (two separate scandals); disgraced former senator and presidential hopeful John Edwards; disgraced Olympic ice-skater Tonya Harding; "Long Island Lolita" Amy Fisher; model Carolyn Murphy, TV host Chelsea Handler, ex-wrestler Hulk Hogan.

Given the public fascination, it's probably no surprise that "Sex Tape" is getting a lot of attention because Diaz appears nude (as does Segel) . "It's a first for me," she told Esquire magazine. "But Jason gets naked, too. It's just a part of the role. So I did it. I mean, you see everything."

GIVE HER A SCRIPT WITH LAUGHS

Cameron Diaz hasn't spent a lot of time pushing her personal envelope. From her rather spectacular entrance (literally) in "The Mask," she has mostly done the thing she does the best: Be a blithely comic foil. The few sabbaticals she's taken from romantic comedy -- in "Gangs of New York" (2002), for instance, or "My Sister's Keeper" (2009) -- haven't been as memorable as the following films, which show her off to better effect:

THE MASK (1994) Few actresses move from anonymity to celebrity as drastically as Diaz did, with this insanely scripted Jim Carrey vehicle about a milquetoast bank clerk who is transformed into a manic superhero when he puts on a magic mask.

THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY (1998) Infantile and hilarious, puerile yet good-hearted, this Farrelly brothers comedy co-starred Ben Stiller and Matt Dillon and won Diaz a best actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle.

CHARLIE'S ANGELS (2000) Stupid fun and a movie in which the three lead actress (Diaz, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu), were all in on the gag. Which was something that perhaps only became clear when Demi Moore showed up in the sequel, and started taking things seriously.

SHREK (2001) As the voice of Princess Fiona (whom she also played in "Shrek 2" and "Shrek the Third"), Diaz was warm and funny and unlike so many celebrity voices populating animated film, actually brought something to the role.

IN HER SHOES (2005) A movie that catches you off-guard with its frankness and honesty, this Curtis ("L.A. Confidential") Hanson-directed story about sisters played by Diaz and Toni Collette -- "one an uptight lawyer, the other a boozy tart," as one critic said -- was considered by many to be the anti-"Sex in the City" chick flick.

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