TL;DR – Overall just a really fun silly film, that is made even sillier by the fact that it is based on a true story. It is just a pity that not everything works.
Score – 3 out of 5 stars
Content Warning – One of the side plots revolved around an extending sequence about a potential miscarriage
Post-Credit Scene – There is something you’ll want to see in the credits.
You know when I think back to my school years there were people, really good friends, that I spent nearly every day of my life with who I now have no idea where they are and what they are doing with there lives. As we grow older it is natural for people to grow apart, even with the digitally connected world we live in today where you can be Facebook acquaintances with most of the people of your past. Today we are looking at a story about a group of friends that decided to buck this trend in a really odd yet charming way. Now just before we jump in, for the first time I am giving a content warning with regards to this film because one of the plot lines is dealing with a miscarriage that kind of comes out of nowhere in the film and it may be quite traumatising for some people.
So to set the scene, a group of friends in Spokane, Washington have always been close, no matter where they lived across the country because during the month of May they still play a game of tag. This is a tradition that stretches all the way back to when they were nine playing tag around high school. Well, thirty odd years later they are still at it when Hogan (Ed Helms) infiltrates Bob’s (Jon Hamm) work as a janitor. Hogan manages to sneak all the way into Bob’s office just at the same time as Bob is giving an interview to a Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Crosby (Annabelle Wallis). After a slight incident with a chair, Bob gets tagged and Hogan lets him know the real reason he is there, one of their friends Jerry (Jeremy Renner) is giving up after the end of the season as he is about to marry his wife Susan (Leslie Bibb) and it is time to move on with his life. The only problem is that Jerry has never been tagged, not once, not ever, and he is about to retire victorious, and the guys can’t have that. So Hogan issues a truce to Bob, with the deal, get the whole group back together, and as a team take him down. So first they fly to Colorado to get Chilli (Jake Johnson) who is living with his dad (Brian Dennehy) after his divorce and is soon tagged after the gang uses Hogan’s wife Anna (Isla Fisher) as a decoy, then it is on to get Kevin (Hannibal Buress) who is having some issues with his marriage which no one really wanted to hear so hiding out in his therapists office might not have been a good idea. With everyone collected, it is back to their hometown, along with Rebecca who has realised that this is a better story than the interview because Jerry is going down … maybe. But then Jerry has some tricks of his own, like weaponizing an old love triangle with Cheryl (Rashida Jones), you don’t get to be undefeated champion without knowing some tricks.
The first thing about the film that really works is the rapport between the lead cast, which is really important because that is what makes the film work. All the lead actors have great comedic timing, and while no one is really playing off-type they are all committing to their roles. Ed Helms really sells that role of being almost the leader of the group, desperately trying to get one last game in because of what it means to his group of friends. Jon Hamm as the highflyer that is ready to drop everything in a heartbeat if only to be known as the one who finally got the champion. Jake Johnson is the stoner who always seems to be down on his luck but is still deeply cared for. Hannibal Buress is that awkward friend that both over and under shares their life and to whose stories sometimes you just smile and nod to. Jeremy Renner as that cocky always has to win guy, which he actually can back up what he is talking about with action. Isla Fisher as that one friend that just gets super into it, like a bit too into it, like wow. Thinking back to my friends in my group there was at least one of every one of these there, and if you happen to be one of my friends reading this, you know which one you are. This grounds the film in a way it needs to offset a lot of the silliness that happens.
Add to this, the film is really well constructed with regards to the production design and the cinematography. There are times when the action slows down and they do the action sequences almost in the style of the Guy Richie’s Sherlock Holmes films. So you have the slow-motion sequences while also jumping into people’s heads to get a monologue of just how they are going to get away from the person dressed as an old grandmother that you have just realised is actually wearing men’s shoes. This means that there is never a time when you can’t follow the action on screen and everything that is happening which is important because knowing who is tagged is an important part of the film. Add to that there are some good locations that allow the filmmakers to have some creative actions sequences, like for an example a Church basement with all its precariously stacked chairs waiting for people to climb over haphazardly, which might be the most real moment in the film. Most of the time it tends not to dwell into the too silly, though there was one scene with a log trap which let’s just say would totally have killed a dude. They also did a good job of hiding the fact that reportedly Jeremy Renner broke both his arms during the movie and filmed the rest of it in green plaster casts so they could fix it in post-production.
The story is honestly really quite silly made sillier by the fact that this is based off a real story and if you want you can actually read the article that inspired the film HERE. It looks like what they have done is taken the concept and some of the moments like the grandmother disguise and then crafted a new story around that. On the whole, it works, it’s not doing anything revolutionary, but it is a solid outing. Some things work better than others, for example, the whole post golf cart chase sequence just felt ridiculous beyond the scope that the film was setting up. As well as this, there is the before mentioned miscarriage subplot which was handled appallingly and felt like a slapdash solution to get out of a hole they had written themselves into. As well as this, Rashida Jones just feels really underused in the film and this is a real waste because she has amazing comedic timing that really could have added to the proceedings.
So in the end, do we recommend Tag? Sort of yea we do, for the most part, the film is a silly fun time, and you can’t help but laugh at many of the shenanigans they find themselves in. It is just a pity that not everything in the film worked as well as could have.
By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.
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Credits – All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of Tag
Directed by – Jeff Tomsic
Story by – Mark Steilen
Screenplay by – Rob McKittrick & Mark Steilen
Based on – It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It by Russell Adams
Music by – Germaine Franco
Cinematography by – Larry Blanford
Edited by – Josh Crockett
Starring – Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Annabelle Wallis, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Nora Dunn, Brian Dennehy & Steve Berg
Rating – Australia: M; Canada: 14A; Germany: na; New Zealand: M; United Kingdom: 15; United States: R