The chemistry between the cast and a narrative which is full of good intentions are more than enough reason to check out Tag.
Now the idea of a film centered around a simple game (most of us played as children) sounds incredibly foolish and bound to fail. However, director Jeff Tomsic is able to extrapolate the motivation behind why these gentlemen have been doing this for 29 years and showcase the transformative effect it has on all of them. The game isn’t about who wins; it’s more about who is in. As time marches on, this game is the one thing which manages to keep them in each others lives.
Tag is based on a 2013 article published in the Wall Street Journal which chronicled a group of friends from Spokane who have been playing this game for most of their lives. Through deaths, children being born, birthdays, and meetings at the office, the game (which lasts the whole month of May) don’t stop. There are of course rules, and they have been adjusted over the years to morph the game into a hardcore version of the original. Snares, flinging chairs at your opponent, and disguises are just ways to catch your target or avoid being “It.” Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress, and Jake Johnson play these lifelong friends from Spokane. While Tag is based on these gentlemen from the state of Washington, the film’s focus is on Hoagie (Helms) tracking down his pals to let them know Jerry (Renner) is planning to retire from the game after this year with his perfect record (he’s never been tagged). They band together in hopes of ending Jerry’s exceptional streak.
Tomsic manages to keep the pace up and the humor extremely raunchy allowing each of the actors hit those comedic moments. Screenwriters Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen were able to construct a narrative based on the group’s mantra “We grow old, if we stop playing,” which reflective the groups need to stay connected and maintain their bond. My only concern is, did McKittrick and Steilen try to accomplish too much in the film? Personally, had Tag been about just been all raunch and the groups need to maintain their bond after all these years, it would have made for a better film. There was little need for how they ended the story. This doesn’t mean that audiences should avoid Tag, quite the opposite.
The performances in the film are solid. Seeing Renner in a comedic role was a treat, and he would have stolen the movie if it hadn’t been for Isla Fisher. Fisher plays Anna (Hoagie’s wife) and she comes along with the boys to be supportive, but she’s an ultra-competitive person who is willing to do anything so they can win. Seeing how psychotic she became when the boys changed their minds about waterboarding an employee at Jerry’s gym for information on his whereabouts demonstrated the comedic spark she added to the film.
Overall, Tag was a joy to watch and showcased the power a good friendship can have on someone. While the film isn’t perfect, the entertainment and messages in Tag are more than enough reasons to see it.