Five friends battle it out in the ultimate game of Tag
When the month of May comes around no-one is safe and nothing is sacred as five friends go to extreme lengths to make sure they’re not the last one to be tagged ‘it’.In 2013 Russell Adams wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal about a group of nine men who had been playing the school-yard game ‘it’ for a whole twenty-three years. Of course it wouldn’t take long before Hollywood got their mitts on the story and set about turning it into a star-studded summer flick that shows growing old doesn’t mean you have to actually act old. Heading up this fun frolic of a film is first time feature director Jeff Tomsic with a screenplay written by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen.
Every year during the month of May five school friends par-take in a no-holds-barred game of ‘it’. But, and here’s the hook, they are no longer pre-pubescent school kids. These five fellows have grown up and each have lives of their own. Hogan ‘Hoagie’ Malloy (Ed Helms), the self professed heart and soul of the game, is married with kids; Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm) is the egotistical CEO of a major cooperation; Randy 'Chilli' Cilliano (Jake Johnson) is the down on his luck stoner; Kevin Sable (Hannibal Buress) has paranoia and wife issues and Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner) uses stealth and precision to maintain his record for being the only one who has never been ‘it’.
It is completely ridiculous but somehow it works and manages to be fun.
The game commences when Callahan’s interview with a journalist for the Wall Street Journal, played by Annabelle Wallis, gets hijacked by an undercover Hoagie. Determined that this is the year that Jerry will lose his tag virginity, Hoagie persuades Callahan to go along with his plan to use Jerry’s upcoming wedding as the perfect opportunity to de-flower him.
Joined by Rebecca (Wallis), who decides that a story about a group of five grown men who still play a kids' game is much more interesting than what she had originally planned, Hoagie and Callahan criss-cross the country, stopping off to pick up Sable and Chilli on the way before they all head back to their home town.
Also tagging along for the ride is Hoagie’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher) whose intensity and competitiveness far exceeds any of the men despite not being allowed to play because of an early rule the boys made while still in school stating that no girls can play - because, you know, girls have the lurgy. So, together with the help of Anna, and sort of at times Rebecca, the four of them set about trying to capture the elusive Jerry - but little do they know the extent to which he, and his wife-to-be Susan (Leslie Bibb) will go to to keep his undefeated record.
On the surface Tag seems like a very silly idea for a film; five grown men running around like lunatics, tackling each other to the floor, jumping out of windows and using military style tactics to remain un-tagged. It is completely ridiculous but somehow it works and manages to be fun.
The comedy isn’t consistent throughout with some moments proving to land better than others, but for the most part the ride is pretty enjoyable. The combination of comedy and action works well and perhaps takes it a step higher from your routine Hangover-type schtick.
The scenes that go into thriller/war movie territory are well placed and flesh out the rest of the narrative. There are also some great non-fight fight sequences that are reminiscent of a number of recent action movies, which gives Renner a chance to showcase all the skills he learnt for the part of Hawkeye - and perhaps never really got to use.
I would have liked to see more on how the game plays out in each of their individual lives, but I suppose there are always sequels for that. There are some potentially touchy subjects thrown in for comedic value that could go down either way, but are coated in enough lighthearted and acknowledged humour that they manage to get away with it.
Without a doubt it is the cast who keep things ticking along and keep you watching.
Without a doubt it is the cast who keep things ticking along and keep you watching. And they are all great fun to watch from Helms’ determination as Hoagie to keep the game going spurred on by the fierce and spunky Anna played brilliantly by Fisher, to the witty back and forth between Hamm’s Callahan and Johnson’s Chilli. It did seem like Buress wasn’t given as much to work with, but regardless he manages to deliver those off the cuff, nonchalant type comments that just work. Compared to Buress though, Wallis was given even less to do, disappearing for stretches of time only to return with no explanation. Renner left most of the comedy to the others, but demonstrated that he too can be one of the guys, even if that means doing un-speakable things to a friend’s childhood toy.
As comedies go, Tag is a pretty safe bet. It’s not quite up there with this years Game Night but it does certainly try. Even though the jokes at times feel too few and far between, with only a handful fully landing, there are still a few good laughs to be had. There’s of course the obligatory message about friendship and all that jazz, but the main aim of the game is fun. And while the memory of the film won’t last much longer past leaving the theatre, it still remains an enjoyable summer flick.
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.