Director: Jeff Tomsic
Cast: Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson
Synopsis: A small group of former classmates organize an elaborate, annual game of tag that requires some to travel all over the country.
MPAA Rating: R (for language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity)
Release Date: June 15, 2018
Through all the work and stress for adults in everyday life, sometimes one just longs to go back to the simpler days when the most you had to worry about was what game you were going to play with your friends at recess or what food your mom was going to make you for dinner.
As adults, friends Hogan (Ed Helms), Bob (Jon Hamm), Randy (Jake Johnson), Kevin (Hannibal Buress), and Jerry (Jeremy Renner) still have one annual tradition going that manages to keep them together over the many years since grade school---the game of tag. Based on a true story, the friends set aside the month of May every year to make one of them "it." It's an intensive game that includes using disguises and even invading each other's homes to reach someone. Over the 23 years since the game's origin, however, Jerry has expertly avoided being tagged, and so the four other friends organize a trip to make the seemingly impossible happen.
From the very first teaser trailer, the story for this film looked ridiculous. But ridiculous in the irresistible kind of way, where it is so different from anything you have seen that you can't help but be interested and intrigued. That said, it didn't look like there would be much of a plot beyond a group of friends trying to make each other "it."
And sadly, the film upheld that prediction.
Tag is one of those escape comedies that unfortunately doesn't even feel much like an escape. Instead, it's an emotionless, disjointed story with few laughs and a wasted talent on screen. The only standout performance in the film is Jeremy Renner, who's exaggerated expertise at the game of tag is shot in Sherlock Holmes fashion, as he narrates his predictions for the opposing friend and his counter moves mid-battle. While his all-out antics for the game will generate a few laughs, Renner's character gets the least screen time of any of the other characters, so that even the film's strongest element it has going for it is left under-utilized.
Even though based on a true story, the film possesses an artificial quality, as characters act poorly to situations and we as the audience are expected to repeatedly go along with their decisions, even though they make little sense. Furthermore, none of the characters have any real growth in the film--they remain who they are from beginning to end without any satisfying transformation in the slightest, which further distances viewers from them.
Besides a few laughs and some boundary-pushing humor, the only redeeming quality and theme the film relays to audiences is the value of staying connected to friends, no matter how old you are or where you end up geographically. Still, this idea has been done before and with greater execution (think Grown Ups).
While this film has a few good moments and a well-intentioned theme, it's not nearly enough to make up for its poorly written story, characters, and slow pacing. Even those seeking the least demand of viewing will have some trouble escaping Tag.
Written by Anthony Watkins, June 29, 2018