Tag: Film Review

Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Annabelle Wallis, Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress in Tag (2018)

Imagine hearing about an actual movie revolving around the game of tag. You would think that’s pretty stupid to watch a feature-length story that could get all kinds of ridiculous. But as the marketing put it, the latest comedy, Tag, it’s indeed based on a true story based on Russell Adams’ 2013 story published in The Wall Street Journal. Does it sound weird for this to be a decent film to make up to be one of the funniest movies of the year?

What’s the Story?: Since they were kids, Hoagie (Ed Helms), Callahan (Jon Hamm), Chilli (Jake Johnson), Sable (Hannibal Buress), and Jerry (Jeremy Renner) have been playing an ongoing game of tag for 30 years during the month of May. But since Jerry’s retiring from the game at the end of the season, and he the only one who hasn’t been tagged yet, the gang plans to finally get him during his wedding.

It’s still hard to believe this story actually happened. I did hear talks about this movie a few years ago, and I thought it was fake. The trailer itself looked stupid But with an ensemble of funny talents and actual writers onboard, maybe this could be intriguing, yet funny. But we see Rebecca Crosby (Annabelle Wallis) actually joining along after he learns about this crazy plan from Hoagie and Callahan from the beginning. But does it make Tag good by any means? Honestly, no, but the abusive that’s shown through the comedy could make up for its flaws.

First-time director Jeff Tomsic takes on the big-screen comedy with Rob McKittrick (Waiting…) and Mark Steilen. For a premise involving a silly, competitive game, it’s hit-or-miss depending on who’s gonna like this. I honestly thought this was gonna show year after year when these guys playing and tagging each other, but no, just about getting Jerry. But I was surprised with how the moments where they’re trying to tag each other looked pretty cool.

But wasn’t enough for a story like this to be entertaining for 100 minutes? Not really. That’s was probably the one thing that I worried about prior to watching Tag. It came off as a thin plot with not much substance to follow through. Of course, everything in here is exaggerated to the point it becomes very silly and unrealistic.

There was believable chemistry between the core group of pals. Helms is basically playing himself, so there’s really nothing new with every character he plays. He’s the one guy who takes this seriously. Even Hogan’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher) always tags along as this energetic person who doesn’t play (the rules explains that girls aren’t allowed). Hamm is a comedic role is pretty rare, and he’s always capable of being funny when he needs to be. Buress has some odd things to say with his dry sense of humor when he thinks it makes total sense.

Probably two of the standouts were Johnson and Renner. I’ve always been a fan of Johnson and it’s a shame that he doesn’t get to be in a whole lot of movies, especially good ones for that matter. He’s the divorced stoner who sometimes thinks everything is a setup. At least, he’s in something right as New Girl recently ended. From reports of filming, Renner fractured both of his arms after only a few days of filming; so they used CGI to remove his casts. Couldn’t really tell because it isn’t noticeable in the slightest. 

I was surprised with how much this cracked me up. Not to say that I wanted to be stupid, but I did want to have a few jokes to hopefully get through. There were some clever laughs that were, ridiculous, yet worth a chuckle. One of its funniest gags is when the guys are about to get Jerry, he does this voice over and says what he’s doing, basically goes Sherlock Holmes on them.

Not all of the jokes worked throughout; most of them are weak because of the writing or because it went too long serving no purpose to it being funny. There’s a kind of love triangle between Chilli and Callahan when he fought over Rashida Jones’ Cheryl Deakins, and it felt like a detraction from the story. And then once the third act started, the laughs just wasn’t kickin in.

With all it’s shenanigans going on throughout where Tag gets all of its laughs in, there’s surprisingly has serious moments that kind of took me off guard. And when it happens, sometimes it doesn’t fully work in its favor and comes off as forced.

Because of this game, it makes you question why would anybody so childish to take this game seriously, but it gives them the chance for the guys to feel close to one another. Weird, but you can kind of buy into it.

Even with its problems that makes Tag almost a forgettable summer comedy, it does tend to be a movie about friendship and still reconnecting with each other. It started out a little strong, but it started to fizzle out during the midway point.  Tag feels like the kind of comedy that would be considered a weekend watch on TBS when you have nothing to do.

Tag might not work fully with its mixed bag of humor and a story that doesn’t have much merit, but it ends up being a tolerable and fun comedy, for the most part. Grade: C+

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