Tag Movie Review
Tag would be pretty dumb if it weren’t based on a true story, and even still, it’s pretty dumb. It also makes you wish that you had started a multi-year game of tag with your school friends--oh, and that Tag was a better, funnier movie.
About a group of longtime friends who, ever year for one month, play the popular childhood game even if it means flying across the country or attacking at a parent’s funeral, Tag focuses on a specific year in which four of the guys (played by Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress) eye the perfect opportunity to finally tag their elusive pal (Jeremy Renner, who broke both arms while filming and had usable arms CGI’d throughout)... at his wedding.
The result is about what you’d expect: material suitable for a Wall Street Journal article, or an amusing half-hour documentary, but a little stretched for a feature-length film. Tag has funny parts, but it has just as many flat parts, where the filmmakers clearly didn’t know what to do with their ridiculously simple but also ridiculously true concept.
The decision by Jeff Tomsic, directing his first major feature-length film, and the writers, whose best credit among them is the 2005 Ryan Reynolds comedy Waiting..., is to go the slapstick route, turning Renner’s character into a near superman who breaks scenarios down in slow motion so that he can flip, kick and jump through windows to avoid being tagged for the first time in his life. He even resorts to setting up Rambo-esque traps in the woods near his home.
While some of these moments are amusing, they aren’t well refined--one wonders what a more established filmmaker could have done to make these sequences, and the entire movie, more consistently funny. For example, hearing what each man is thinking as they go on a tag assault is a clever gag, but what we actually hear is marginally amusing at best. Tag’s jokes often feel like the ones that better comedies leave on the cutting room floor.
Despite inconsistencies, Tag has just enough laughs to keep things entertaining. Isla Fisher does her best to elevate the limited material she’s given, playing the rage-fueled, intensely competitive wife of Helms. Hannibal Buress is the most consistently funny actor in the film, who seemingly can turn any nondescript line into something that stands out among the rest.
Still, it’s hard not to imagine what Tag could have been with a little more attention to detail (and sadly, perhaps different talent behind the camera). The movie has a great cast and a silly, so-absurd-it-has-to-be-real concept, and as a result it is funny in parts. But less lazy dialogue and an less reliance on the cast to make things funny would have gone a long way.
Tag is just entertaining enough to say watch it, but wait until it’s included in your Netflix subscription so you don’t have to pay extra for it. Until then, don’t tag into this game.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.