I really, REALLY wish that I had come up with playing a game of Tag with my friends for 30+ years as it seems like such a bloody good idea. Imagine tearing across the country to track down your old chums once a month every year to best each other to not be the last man standing in a gargantuan battle to the death? Amazingly a true story, does such a ridiculous yet wish-we-had-thought-of-it premise elevate itself into a fully-fledged comedy film? It should have but this game feels like it should have ended in high-school.
“You don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing” echoes Hogan (Ed Helms), the mantra that he and his four childhood friends (Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Burress) have stood by since those rambunctious years from kids into adulthood tearing through neighbourhoods in the hopes of tagging the other. But one of the collectives has remained untaggable – the suave, superhero-like Jerry (an aptly cast Renner) who has eluded their palms since they left high-school. Fast forward to present-day and Hogan has wind of Jerry’s upcoming nuptials back in their hometown and convinces the others that this is their chance, finally, to lay their hands firmly on his shoulder.
Such an amazing premise, then, but it’s no fun to report that in reality, Tag feels like a huge missed opportunity and another nail in the R-rated comedy coffin. Things had started to look up for the sub-genre after the brilliant Game Night earlier this year, (which had more true laughs in its opening half-hour than this one does during its entire runtime) but despite an equally winning cast, Tag is a huge step backward. Jeff Tomsic, making his directorial debut here, does a decent enough job of keeping things ticking along with a pleasant enough style with the game portions of the film shot in particular both frenetic and absurdly funny.
That aside, the rest of the film is a bit of a mess with not much of the narrative striking any sort of comedic or emotional note throughout and its choppy nature makes it difficult for many of the cast to make the kind of impressions you would expect from such a roster: Helms regurgitates his Hangover routine once more whilst Jake Johnson, so brilliant in New Girl and his collaborations with the Duplass Brothers, and Hannibal Buress are woefully wasted here, as is Annabelle Wallis in stupendously perfunctory role as the Wall Street journalist who follows the boys to Jerry’s wedding. Jon Hamm, always nothing if not magnetic, fares better but Isla Fisher steals the show from everyone just as she did in Wedding Crashers and gives us a timely reminder of both her supreme talents and why she should be getting her own films by now.
When all is said and done, Tag is a crushing disappointment that deserved so much better. All the elements are in place for a hilarious, no-holds-barred bit of fun but sadly it all feels more a chore despite its impressive ensemble. Tag out and go rent Game Night instead.
Scott J.Davis | [rating=2]
Comedy | USA, 2018 | 15| 29th June 2018 (UK) | Warner Bros Pictures. | Dir.Jeff Tomsic | Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, Annabelle Wallis, Isla Fisher