“Tag” stars Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Jon Hamm, and Jeremy Renner. Released on June 15, 2018, the film is about a group of friends who spent 30 years playing the same game of tag.
The film features the directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic. There are films that are based on extraordinary true stories, and there are films that are based on ridiculous stories that actually turn out to be true. This latest comedy falls into the latter category. It’s really hard to believe that a group of people had played a game of tag for almost three decades, but the article in The Wall Street Journal that was published by Russell Adams proved otherwise. Now that this story has been adapted to the big screen, is it as fun as the game itself?
Inspired by Adams’ article, It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It, the film focuses on a group of grown men who get together during the month of May every year to, you guessed it, play tag. When they found out that their friend, Jerry Pierce (Renner), might retire with a perfect streak of being untouchable to marry his fiancee, the guys set out on a mission to break his streak before his wedding. This is a very simplistic story that doesn’t delve deep into the characters themselves and how their daily lives are affected by their tradition. It’s just a bunch of men playing tag with someone who has never been tagged for 30 years. I think people who wanted a more thoughtful portrayal of the concept may leave the theater feeling disappointed. However, if Jeff Tomsic’s goal was to create a comedy that screams “fun time at the movies”, I believe he accomplished it with ease. It’s not a perfect comedy by any means, but its focus on constant laughs, energetic pace, and a contemplative message about friendship are enough to satisfy those who are looking for a feel-good comedy. Ranging from Ed Helms to Jon Hamm, the cast delivered a lot of charm and plenty of laughs without feeling the need to outshine one another, but the main show stealer, in my opinion, has to be Jeremy Renner as Jerry. It’s like this role was made for him since he’s known for portraying Hawkeye in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Plus, he had a few unexpected jokes that involve some slow-motion sequences. The only downside to the cast would have to be the main actresses besides Annabelle Wallis as the journalist who follows the group around. Isla Fisher plays the wife of Ed Helms’ character who joins in on the fun. She was fine in the role, but at times, she can get a bit too over-the-top when it comes to her character’s personality. As for Rashida Jones as the guys’ childhood friend, it felt like she was there for a purpose, but the film never expressed that plot element and was only played out for laughs.
Overall, “Tag” may have missed an opportunity to fully develop its crazy concept, but it still has the fundamentals of being a “fun, laugh-out-loud comedy”. Thanks to its likable cast, its use of humor, and its nicely-told story about friendship, this is a pretty solid debut for first-time director, Jeff Tomsic, who may have a healthy future ahead of him in terms of filmmaking. As I mentioned before, it won’t win over those who wanted a smart and thought-provoking take on the unbelievable true story, but for those who just wanted a good laugh, it’s worth checking out.