1 Hr., 40 Mins.
Tag June 30, 2018
you have to sit with the unwanted moniker for a year. There are no winners, it seems: just the priceless rewards of reunion.
Five years later, this story has been (very) loosely cinematized by Tag, an action farce. In the film, we get to know the aforementioned coterie, here comprising five men rather than 10, during the month of May (not February) as they embark on their latest tag odyssey. This year’s going to make for a different sort of reunion, though: Jerry (Jeremy Renner), a nimble fox who’s managed to avoid getting tagged all these years, is getting married.
The clan travels to Spokane, Washington, their hometown, for the ceremony — and finds that while the game is as fun as ever, personal troubles sometimes infiltrate the highs of the pastime. Sable (Hannibal Buress) is going through a bout of depression (we first meet him during a therapy session); Chilli (Jake Johnson) is broke and recently divorced; Hoagie (Ed Helms), married to the hilariously truculent Anna (Isla Fisher), is having health problems; and Bob (Jon Hamm), despite being a relatively successful CEO, is feeling the effects of affluence-driven ennui. (The Wall Street Journal thing comes about when Hoagie recklessly tags Bob during his interview with one of the publication’s Annabelle Wallis-portrayed writers; the latter, worried about her deadline, decides to pack her bags and follow the friends.)
But screenwriters Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen, with the assistance of the dependable director Jeff Tomsic (who’s best known for his work on Comedy Central’s Broad City [2014-present]), never overdo it with the existential dramatics — at least not for a while. More important in Tag is the planning and executing of high-concept physical and verbal gags. (My favorite is the way the film is repeatedly staged as a slo-mo fondling action movie whenever the ultra-competitive Jerry is targeted.)
Most of the jokes, which are frequently characterized by an improvisational, comedy sketch-esque tinge, land. The film is a buoyant, if forgettable, throwback of a comedy that’s equal parts an amusing, makeshift action feature and an unguarded hangout movie. The cast members, appearing to be having a great time, up this: We believe these people have been friends for all these years, in spite of how facile the script can be when it comes to character development. Pay special attention to the delightful Isla Fisher: Per usual, the always-game Australian redhead is brassier, and funnier, than everyone else.
Tag does hit a couple snags during its final act. In a last-ditch effort to keep the film from vanishing into the ether, McKittrick and Steilen attempt to take the storyline to more serious territories. And that, while perhaps inevitable in a movie so loudly farcical, bogs the film down: the harsh transition from summer-ready action lark to tragicomedy is an awkward one. Still, Tag is a dynamic farce for most of its 100 minutes. It’s a zippy, protracted sketch that works a lot better than it should. B
n 2013, the Wall Street Journal published a feature story circling around a group of friends who’d managed to play an ongoing game of tag for 23 years straight. It started in high school. Each morning break, the dectet of pals would pass the time by playing the game in the courtyard. It was decided at some point that it might be fun to refrain from calling it quits: Keeping tag alive, in their minds, would make for a novel way to keep in touch. Each February, then, whoever is “it” has remained able to tag someone at work, in the shower, during a job interview — anywhere. If you're still "it" when the 28 days are up,