Synopsis: For one month every year, five highly competitive friends hit the ground running in a no-holds-barred game of tag they’ve been playing since the first grade—risking their necks, their jobs and their relationships to take each other down with the battle cry: “You’re It!” This year, the game coincides with the wedding of their only undefeated player, which should finally make him an easy target. But he knows they’re coming…and he’s ready. Based on a true story, the New Line Cinema comedy “Tag” shows how far some guys will go to be the last man standing. (Warner Bros)
Starring: Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress
Writers: Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen
Director: Jeff Tomsic
Rating: 14A (Canada)/R (United States)
Running Time: 100mins
With a film called Tag, you more or less know what to expect. The question then becomes, can the film’s premise involving a game of tag sustain a full length feature film? The answer to that question, surprisingly, is yes for the most part. Based on a true story, a group of five friends, including Hoagie (Helms), Chilli (Johnson), Sable (Buress), Callahan (Jon Hamm), and Jerry (Jeremy Renner), have played the same game of tag for the last 30 years. Every May, the friends go at it, however, Jerry had never been tagged. This year was going to be different as the other guys vowed to end Jerry’s undefeated streak but this would prove to be easier said than done.
The plot was simple yet effective but leaves much to be desired when it came to its characters. All the friends were fun to watch together although were less captivating individually. The film didn’t bother to give them any character development whatsoever, not going further than relating the obvious themes of friendship and getting older with tag. This was fine, however, the film faltered with a few unnecessary subplots that were more of a distraction than anything else. Luckily, these were kept to a minimum. The best part of the film, other than the camaraderie between the friends, was watching the friends take on Jerry. Despite the occasional obvious CGI, these sequences were thrilling to watch though took a while to get going.
This film is a comedy that lives or dies on the buyability of its premise. The story and the script were both incredibly silly and lacking logic to the point of implausibility which could be too much for some. With its 14A/R rating, it could have easily taken the same path as similar films utilizing a crude sense of humor but this film avoided going too lowbrow (except for one joke that arguably went too far) thanks to a script that took full advantage of the over the top premise by creating several genuinely hilarious moments, mostly using slapstick comedy and/or outrageous dialog, primarily from Hoagie’s intense wife Anna (Isla Fisher). She also happened to be the only female character in the film who remotely made an impression.
Ultimately, the film would not have worked if not for the chemistry between the great cast. The performances were good across the board with everyone contributing nicely to the story. The five friends were believable as a group of immature men but the lack of character development made their friendship feel forced at times. Renner was very slick and Holmes-esque as Jerry, however, the standout was Buress who stole many scenes with his deadpan one-liners. Besides Fisher who had some great lines as Anna, the female characters were nonexistent and were relegated to the sidelines. Finally, you’ll want to stay through the credits.
Overall, this was a decent comedy whose premise may be too silly and unbelievable for some but for others, it will be a fun to watch and a more often than not hilarious film thanks to the chemistry of its great cast.