MOVIE REVIEW – ‘Tag’

This is a slightly flawed game that is still worth joining.

Review by J.T. Johnson

DIRECTOR: Jeff Tomsic
CINEMATOGRAPHY: Larry Blanford
WRITERS: Rob McKittrick, Mark Steilen
MUSIC: Germaine Franco

There is a twist to “Tag” with the fact that it is inspired by a true story. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is mostly fictionalized, but in 2013, The Wall Street Journal published a story about nine men who had been playing the same game of tag for over 23 years. The idea is that for one month a year, it would bring them back together since they left to have different careers, families and homes.

This is what the film uses as its central plot. Every May, Hoagie (Ed Helms), Bob (John Hamm), Randy (Jake Johnson), Kevin (Hannibal Buress) and Jerry (Jeremy Renner) compete for the month to tag each other no matter where they are. Unfortunately, it seems that Jerry wants to retire now that he is getting married and the deal with Jerry is that he has never been it.

The others decide to get together during the few days before and during Jerry’s wedding in order to tag him before he leaves the game for good. The movie is admittedly absurd with some of the things that these guys do, but some of these crazy stunts truly happened in the real life game, such as one of the participants showing up after another competitor’s father had died and tagged him during the funeral.

I only have two notable problems with the movie. Firstly, it starts off a bit slow while they set up the characters and this is where the jokes are mostly hit-or-miss. After the sloppy start and the game of tag resumes, the movie picks up and never lets up, both with the comedic action of trying to tag Jerry and the jokes.

The only other problem is the inclusion of a character named Cheryl, played by Rashida Jones. This character is only introduced in order to add a little more drama for Bob and Randy. Ultimately, though, this story isn’t needed as they have enough material without the inclusion of Cheryl.

Beyond those missteps, though, the rest of the cast is funny. The five main participants of the game are great and they all have their moments as they try to tag each other. Still, the main scene stealer for me is Isla Fisher as Hoagie’s wife Anna. She is hilariously aggressive yet supportive about the game and Fisher is always good for a laugh.

Other than the jokes and the performances, though, the core of the movie is a story about friendship. Thankfully, the movie never forgets this part and it gives the film more heart than one might think at first. Yes, it has a sloppy start and an unnecessary yet thankfully minor subplot, but this is one game that is definitely worth joining.

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