by Tom Clocker
Tag is a comedy, based on a true story, about a group of grown friends who have been playing the same game of tag for most of their lives. For the entire month of May, the game is on. Though the friends live in different cities in the pacific northwest, they find time to sneak up on each other and pass on the tag. The film features one friend, Jerry (Jeremy Renner of Marvel’s Avengers), who has never been tagged. They say he is the best to ever play the game. It is unclear how many friends are involved in the real-life version of the game, and whether or not there is one man who has never been tagged. But the film focusses on five friends. Four of them, Randy (Jake Johnson of New Girl), Callahan (Jon Hamm of Mad Men), Hoagie (Ed Helms of The Hangover), and Sable (Hannibal Buress) decide to team up to finally take down Jerry during his wedding weekend. They have a couple women tag along who are not allowed in the game: Hoagie’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher of Wedding Crashers), and Wall Street Journal writer Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis of The Mummy 2017).
Tag is directed by Jeff Tomsic who has made his name in television. This is his first time in the big chair for a theatrical film. At times his inexperience does come out, but for the most part, he does well putting together a solid comedy. Probably the biggest knock against this film is simply the fact that it didn’t have enough story for a feature-length film. This would have been better suited as a sitcom episode, or even an hour-long Netflix special. The character development felt a little forced like everyone knew it was a necessity and used it to fill the gaps between tag scenes. It all wraps up well in the end, but there’s nothing fresh or deep about it while you’re watching the first and second act.
But when Tag kicks it into gear, it is a fun ride. Tomsic does well using things like sporadic slow-motion and character inner-monologue to add a lot of humor. The scenes where all the friends are together and start ribbing each other are pretty great too. There are certainly laughs to be had and this film is worthy of your time. But you’ll have to figure out if it’s worth a theater ticket.
What really saves “Tag” from being a below-average comedy is the ending. Writers Rob McKittrick (Waiting…) and Mark Steilen (Stuck on You) wrapped up the fun with a heartwarming conclusion about friendship. Quite frankly, it will make you long for what these guys have. You’ll want to go back and make a similar arrangement with your childhood friends so you don’t grow apart. In a world of social media, “cyber friends”, texting instead of talking, and more devices than people and cars, we have less human interaction now than ever before. These friends found a way to avoid that separation. And the bottom line is, the world needs more of this. Enjoy life. Enjoy friends. Find a way to make that happen. Don’t get stuck in the rut and one day realize you have no joy in life. It doesn’t take much. Find something like these friends. Most of the year they have their routines. But for a few weeks, they have some real fun. It is brilliant in its simplicity.