Believe it or not, Tag is legitimately a true story. Mostly. But still, it’s kind of unbelievable. The basic premise is that a group of guys have been playing tag since they were kids. The same game of tag, every year, for the entire month of May, since they were kids. There was a Wall Street Journal article about these guys, which is essentially how this film came to be.
Tag is the feature directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic, whose previous work is mostly comedy, mostly on television or in short films. The cast is almost exclusively the sort of cast you’d expect to see in a film like this: Ed Helms (The Hangover, Vacation), Jake Johnson (New Girl, Jurassic World), Hannibal Buress (Neighbours, Blockers), Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic), and Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation, The Social Network). But then, there’s some notable surprises: Jon Hamm (Mad Men, The Town, Baby Driver), Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy, Peaky Blinders), and the MVP of this whole thing: Jeremy Renner (The Avengers, The Hurt Locker, The Town).
Basically, this movie is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It’s not doing anything really earth-shattering, but it’s also not going to let you down, if a pop-corn filled, easily consumable comedy is what you’re going for. The whole cast is exactly what you’ve seen them do before. Isla Fisher is the crazy lady from Wedding Crashers, Ed Helms is your dorky everyman from The Hangover, John Hamm is the super successful businessman he is in Mad Men, but Jeremy Renner. Jeremy Renner’s scenes intrinsically, irrevocably, unequivocally, raise the quality of this film by several points.
Renner has some A-grade Ethan Hunt meets Sherlock Holmes moments in this film that completely cut through some of the mediocre comedy and catch you by surprise. In fact, that’s kind of a running theme throughout, where so much of the comedy is fine. Just fine. But then the film pushes it just a little bit further, and every now and again really edges up what it’s going for. Not all of it landed, but I giggled at parts.
There’s also a nice, emotional pull at the end, which I think lands the message the film is going for, but that’s to be expected in these sorts of comedies. I’m also super happy that we didn’t get an uncomfortably squished-in love interest between Annabelle Wallis and John Hamm, despite what must have been a potential road the film could have gone down. So it gets points for that.
The best part of Tag, though, is the end credits scene where you get to see footage of these actual guys. Mostly because you knew that was coming, and throughout this film you’re speculating about which parts of the movie probably happened, and which parts seem way too far fetched and gimmicky. Turns out, you might be surprised. What’s great about this though, is the idea that this game has kept this group of guys close for decades, and that shines through both in the film, the Wall Street Journal article, and in the footage in the credits.
Tag is showing now, not hugely rush-out-and-see-at-the-movies kind of a film, maybe wait till Netflix or Stan on this one, unless this sort of stuff really floats your boat.
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