Comedy is definitely one of the harder genres to pull off well, as so many variables can factor in to whether or not a comedy movie is actually funny – the script, the actors, the direction, comedic timing, right down to things not even in the hands of the filmmaking process like whether the viewer is tired or even mentally in the mood to laugh. Now that may sound silly, because why would you watch a comedy if you’re not in the mood to laugh? What I’m saying is that it’s easy enough to throw in an action or horror flick no matter the mood, as its job of entertaining you doesn’t require you to be happy, while a comedy has to work uphill to win you over right out of the gate. That said, if a comedy film does its job properly, it can lift your spirits, put a smile on your face and leave you in a better place than when you first sat down.
I can happily say that Tag does its job well enough that despite being tired from a long day at work and not necessarily in the right headspace for a comedy, I found myself laughing fairly consistently, never bored or disinterested and actually quite enamoured and thoroughly entertained with the unique concept that the film brings to the table.
The story is based on the true events of a group of friends that have been playing a game of tag together for decades all the way back to their childhood. In the film, the story starts with Hogan ‘Hoagie’ Malloy (Ed Helms) applying for a job that he’s way overqualified for just so he can get close enough to the boss of the company – and his childhood friend – Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm) in order to tag him, and in turn, make Bob “it.”
This may sound fairly ridiculous, and it is, but this is actually what the group of friends who did this in real life do to one another. The idea is that as we get older people start families or careers, often move away to different cities all over the country, and simply get caught up in life to the point that it’s easy to fall out of contact with old friends. So, this game of tag that this group of friends created when they were nine years old says that every May there’s a competitive tag game that goes down where at any time, the person who is it can show up and tag someone else to pass it along. By the end of the month, whomever is “it” must live with that shame for the rest of the year.
While the story is based on true events, the movie is completely over the top in how everything plays out. The movie is packed with slapstick comedy and moments that if you take too seriously (or seriously on any level) it’ll ruin the movie for you. The world these characters live in is real, but the extremes they go to and ninja moves one of them consistently showcases are otherworldly and flat out silly – but in a fun way and for pure entertainment value.
The rest of the group consists of Randy “Chilli” Cilliano (Jake Johnson), Kevin Sable (Hannibal Buress), Hogan’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher) and the one man who has never been tagged in all the years the group has been playing this game, Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner.) After Hogan gets word that Jerry is retiring from their game of tag after this month is over, he recruits the rest of the gang to head back to their old stomping grounds in an attempt to finally tag Jerry and bring his undefeated streak to an end.
Now there are a few moments throughout where the movie could get a little deeper, and delve into their friendships a bit more, and some of the grownup issues that some of them are currently facing; however, the route the story seems to take is that these are a group of men trying to stay young at heart, and to do that for this month they push aside the real issues that bog us all down in life and simply focus on making sure they’re not it come June 1st. This is understandable to keep the pacing steady and simply wanting it to be a more carefree movie where audiences can just sit back and watch these guys as they fly across rooms, take donuts to the face, or fall out of buildings, all in the name of tag.
And while the film doesn’t focus on the hard parts of adulthood, the emotional connection and feeling of brotherhood and family that these characters share shines through thanks to the stellar work of the entire cast. Everyone plays their part really well, takes the bumps and isn’t afraid to look stupid while doing it. It’s clear they’re having fun and that really helps sell what’s taking place on screen. The comedic timing of things going down is spot on in most instances and the chemistry between everyone involved is really what makes this movie work, because it really is a concept that relies heavily on these friendships and characters coming across as sincere, no matter how ridiculous the antics they’re partaking in are.
In the end, if you’re looking for a fun movie filled with loads of slapstick comedy, plenty of laughs and an unexpected amount of heart, then make sure to proclaim yourself “it” and check out Tag, as there’s certainly no shame in that.
PS: Be sure to watch through the credits to see Jeremy Renner and the rest of the cast do their entertaining rendition of “Mmm Mmm Mmm” by the Crash Test Dummies.
The video transfer on the Blu-ray is really great. The images are bright and vibrant and really fit the lighthearted, fun feeling that the movie aims to give off. Everything looks sharp and it’s really just a nice-looking film and as good as you would hope to see it in the current format. The sound mix is also top notch, with the dialogue standing out above all else, but the score, soundtrack and sound effects all blending in or taking over nicely when required.
Meet The Real Tag Brothers – This is a five and a half minute featurette that sees six of the 10 actual lifetime friends and tag players that this movie is based on talk about how they started to play, the lengths they go to when trying to tag or escape another player, and why they continue to do so to this day.
Deleted Scenes – There are a number of deleted scenes here to watch if you so choose. I’m not a fan of sitting through these, as they’re usually cut for a reason. I did watch one of these, which was a flashback as to how they decided to set the game in May back at their high school graduation and it wasn’t funny, wasn’t needed and would’ve hindered the pacing, again proving that it’s usually okay to just skip these and believe they were cut for the betterment of the movie.
Gag Reel – There’s an 8-minute gag reel that’s funny at parts and if you like these sort of things there’s enough to enjoy. It shows the cast had a good time on set, and also that a lot of them release a lot of gas just as the cameras start rolling.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Presents Tag. Directed by: Jeff Tomsic. Written by: Rob McKittrick, Mark Steilen. Starring: Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Burees, Isla Fisher, Leslie Bibb, Rashida Jones, Annabelle Wallis. Running time: 140 Minutes. Rating: R. Released on Blu-ray: Aug. 28, 2018.
Tags: Ed Helms, Hannibal Burees, Isla Fisher, Jake Johnson, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Leslie Bibb, Rashida Jones, Tag