By Jack Dignan
This is not a film that should work. The basic premise alone doesn’t seem like the type of story you’d expect to work. How does one even pitch this to a movie studio? It had a steep uphill battle to make for a good film, and yet, when the first trailer dropped, it was hilarious. It seemed to work. And having now seen the final film, it definitely does. This film defied all odds and pulled through, delivering exactly the type of stupid fun you’d hope for with something as ridiculous as this.
Ever since they were kids, Hoagie (Ed Helms) and his friends loved playing tag. In fact, they loved it so much that, thirty years later, they were still playing it. Yes, that’s right, despite now having moved on with their lives and each living in completely different cities, they all manage to follow through and play the game for the entire month of May every year. Except throughout their many games, one of their friends, Jerry (Jeremy Renner), has never been tagged. But in 2018, that changes. Also joining in on the fun is an all-star cast that includes Jon Hamm, Jake Johnston, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, Annabelle Wallis and Leslie Bib.
Oh, and did I mention that this was a true story? Creative liberties have certainly been taken, as the true story is far more mundane and featured a much larger, more male oriented (and white) set of friends, but that’s perfectly okay. It works. If screenwriters Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen had taken a more historically accurate approach, audiences would get bored fast. Instead, they dial he ridiculousness up to eleven and go to town with this self aware, over the top ode to friendship and the things we do to stay in each other’s lives. It’s... oddly sweet.
It’s pretty much a given with a cast of this magnitude, but everyone involved absolutely kills it. Jeremy Renner is a standout as the man who’s never been tagged, and the fact that he filmed this entire movie with two broken arms is even more impressive (you can’t even notice the fact that both arms are, at times, CGI). Also fantastic is Isla Fisher, whose insane antics and violent dedication to the game brings about a considerable number of laughs. But, strangely enough, the direction by Jeff Tomsic is quite solid. Many of the gags derive from a creative visual standpoint, a hilarious moment in a forest working as a prime example.
But for as fun as this movie is, it really struggles to fill its runtime. This is, basically, a 30-minute short film stretched out for 100, and boy oh boy can you feel it. The actors do their best to fill the time with one-liners, but every scene drags on for twice as long as it should, all but the final 10 minutes feeling very predictable. Also, a large chunk of time revolves around Jerry’s wedding, but why even plan the wedding in May when you know you’re going to be playing tag? This isn’t some memorable, game changing comedy, but when it works it works, and if you’re after a light hearted, crude alternative, Tag is the film for you.
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