Tag is a 2018 American comedy film directed by Jeff Tomsic. Starring Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner, it is based on a true story and pivots on a group of men who spend one month every year playing the popular game of tag.
Hoagie (Ed Helms) was the most attached to the game compared to the others and you could feel it right from the beginning when he goes to the extent of faking to be a janitor in Callahan’s company so that he could get a chance to be alone with him in an office and tag him. That set the tone for the film’s plot and it stuck all through. That whole sequence where he interrupts Callahan’s pitch to a lady while deliberately making noise with his tools was very comedic. Callahan (Jon Hamm), Randy (Jake Johnson) are just as enthusiastic about playing this game and it’s as though they are always ready for it when tag season is upon them; ready to do outrageous stuff like break through an office window or even shoving a woman out of their way to make an escape.
You’d be mistaken to think that that is the highest level of tag playing but no, their expertise in the game pales in comparison to Jerry (Jeremy Renner). Have you have been wondering where Hawk-Eye was during the events of Infinity War? Well, apparently he had taken up a different identity in Jerry playing Tag with his childhood friends. Jokes aside, Jeremy Renner’s character in the film is amazing; he was the most interesting character in my eyes and I think you’ll have the same thoughts upon watching this movie if you haven’t already. What I liked the most about Jerry is that he can do seamless assessments of his playmates’ whereabouts in a room and devise ways of preventing himself from being tagged.
The Premise, Boons and Banes
Tag is a fantastic game known and practiced the world over. There might be variations to its name depending on where you come from for example here in Kenya, we call it ‘Tapo” but all the same, we all have fond memories of playing it in our early years unless of course, you are reading this review and are still an infant. It’s fun when you play it as a child though it’s definitely not fun when you play it as a full grown adult and that’s why I was a bit skeptical of what I would be getting out of this film coming into it; it’s a dull premise if you ask me. That said, I was open to what the photoplay would do with it and for the most part I wasn’t as impressed as I should have been; this is supposed to be a comedy but somehow I didn’t laugh one bit, and that’s not a good thing for an audience member.
The entertainment is good though, I’ll give it that. I was drawn to the tactics that Jerry used to avoid tags; he fakes his location and uses mind games to trick them into going to places that they shouldn’t. I liked the subtleness of Sable (Hannibal Buress), he is not the liveliest of the group but his dialogue was substantially exciting case in point when he discusses rated-r stuff with his female therapist in the 1st Act. The wedding subplot fitted well with the story in spite of the fact that the film does tend to put a lot of its weight on it to raise the stakes. Additionally, I found favour in the slow motion scenes coupled with background dialogue when the rest of the gang try to tag Jerry; best parts of the film for me.
On the flipside, the acting can go over the top in an unnecessary way and you could tell that the actors were pushing for the comedy which just wasn’t working for me. The love triangle stand-off between Callahan and Randy was uninteresting at best; it was just a filler subplot that didn’t add anything to the overall story. Then there is the cliché of someone screaming when he is on a collision course with something dangerous instead of just ducking away; overused. Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) is a journalist who abruptly follows around a group of men she barely knows for several days; what are the odds of that happening?
Furthermore, she is barely a part of the ongoing Tag game which made her character much less appealing; I would say the same for Anna (Isla Fischer) but at least she has the upper hand in that she had some moments in the film where she established her presence. Finally, people actually get into situations where they should be hurt really bad but end up walking out of them with relative ease. Violence is very much a part of the game and the film expects you to be oblivious to the fact that the playmates can deal with blows strong enough to displace someone halfway across a room or even getting hit in the chest with a fire extinguisher; it’s inexcusable that the scriptwriters decided to overlook the latter aspect which they probably thought people wouldn’t notice.
Tag so happens to be Jeff Tomsic’s directorial debut; he saw a comedy angle to a popular juvenile game and decided to make a film about it. I am more than convinced that any educated movie-goer would look at the production of this film as a leap of faith for the team involved more so the director; a leap of faith which Warner Bros. considerably benefited from but which didn’t hit the intended heights. As I said, it was more entertaining than funny, which was a slight letdown. It over-depended on Jeremy Renner’s character, another letdown and thus in the grand scheme of things, I’d say I don’t hold this motion-picture in high regard as far as its genre is concerned.