One of the trademark periods of childhood is getting together with your best friends and engaging in a game. A contest of sorts that pits you against each other and introduces your soul to the glory of competition. At some point in everyone's life, "tag" has taken place. Whether you were good at it is another story.
A group of friends took the simple game to an entirely new level, extending a game of tag 23 years from childhood to adulthood. Their incredible gamesmanship was the subject of a Russell Adams Wall Street Journal story that screenwriters Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen turned into the uproariously funny new movie with a straight-shooting title, Tag.
All I can say is get ready to laugh a whole lot and get a little taste of your childhood thrown back in your face. You may walk into this flick as a responsible adult, but by the time you exit the theater, you will want to smack your friend's shoulder and scream, "TAG! You're it!"
For Hoagie (Ed Helms), Chili (Jake Johnson), Bob (Jon Hamm), and Sable (Hannibal Buress), the game that commences every May has become something entirely different in the past few years; a mission that begins and ends with one thing: find a way to tag the wickedly competitive and sharp Jerry (Jeremy Renner). Jerry has never been tagged in their 30+ years of playing, and according to Hoagie, is calling it quits after he gets married. With a clock on their chances to finally get Jerry, the boys put together elaborate plans to ambush him and get the job done.
Advisory: This movie is ridiculous and obnoxious but in a perfectly comedic way. I wouldn't be surprised if someone was turned off by a women faking a miscarriage so her fiance can escape the clutches of his friends trying to tag him-or the fact that a friend gently taps the shoulder of another at his dad's funeral or when his wife gives birth. For these guys, the game had no bounds, and director Jeff Tomsic (who has directed several standup comedy specials) has some fun with the limits that the game can push. If you don't like crude and insensitive humor, please go watch Incredibles 2 or play it safe with Ocean's 8.
I appreciated Tag for one key reason: I am super competitive. It doesn't matter if I am playing a friendly recreational game of tennis or meeting someone at a restaurant. If we leave my house for the location, I turn my car into a Nascar vehicle and burn rubber to get their first. You can't turn it off or get rid of it. I remember playing games like tag when I was a kid, and this movie brought it all back rather quickly.
The cast is a collection of versatile talents who can do comedy without working up a sweat. Hamm is likable in anything he does, and his over-confident Bob is a delight to see lunge, jump, and fall playing the game. Helms and Johnson conjure laughs with ease, and Isla Fisher and Leslie Bibb offer up their own insanity on overly supportive spouses in a crazy game.
For my money, the standout was Buress. Sable is a seemingly laid back dude with the least amount of energy of anyone in the group, and Buress channels that easily and creates some of the biggest laughs without throwing his body around. The comedian is just hilarious when trying to describe how many drinks he's consumed at a party or falling into Jerry's trap. He's a funny guy and Tag was a good fit for his dry humor talent.
If this was a made-up story about a group of friends engaging in a child's game for decades, I'd still laugh-but it's something else to see the post-credits sequence where some of the real footage is shown. That takes a simple comedy and makes it something extra. The perfect foil for cinematic treatment.
Summer is full of superheroes and criminals of all kinds, but in Tag, there's just best friends and a never-ending game that never fails to get a laugh out of you. Try and play this game without smiling. Try and see this movie without laughing...a lot.