Tag is prefaced on this platitude that we don’t stop playing because we get old, but we get old because we stop playing. A good quote, but seems to be included a bit haphazardly without anything to really back it up throughout this film. Until the end when it realizes just that, and suddenly includes a bunch of insightful details trying to back the quote up.
At its core, Tag just wants to be funny. And it is at times. But what makes the movie so intriguing is the fun concept.
A group of five childhood friends (portrayed by Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress, and Jake Johnson) have been playing the same game of tag for over thirty years. A unique what-if scenario leading us to so many questions. Most of which are answered through the use of a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, whose sole purpose is to follow them around and unveil the much needed exposition.
Jerry (Renner) is the only member of the group never to have been tagged. He’s that good. Unfortunately, he also plans on retiring from the game altogether following his upcoming wedding. So the rest of the guys come up with a plan to finally tag him.
Tag’s biggest issue is that it doesn’t have one lead to anchor down the comedy. There’s no Galifianakis or Haddish or McCarthy, and that’s what’s missing. It’s an ensemble caper of sorts, yet there is no one to lean on. Everyone tries being the comedic relief at once and there ends up being no cool, calm, and collected one. So the humor often gets disjointed and messy.
But the premise still has us intrigued until the very end, with several twists along the way to keep the suspense high.
I applaud the emotion the movie tries to evoke towards the end, but only wish it happened a little sooner. I can’t help but feel like this is a hollow attempt at sentiment done merely out of obligation to some script notes. Renner and Helms express more depth and chemistry with each other in the final ten minutes than anyone else does in the entire movie combined. In fact, throughout the story you keep having to stop and convince yourself that these guys are even realistically friends at all. They have to have a total age range of about 20 years.
Tag is definitely a different kind of movie. Mainly because it tries to do so much. But when I think of it as a comedy, it’s hard to point to one joke or scenario that made me laugh. Instead my mind goes straight to the twists and the major plot points along the way. Perhaps it should have tried to be less of a straightforward comedy and more of a tongue-in-cheek action caper, a la Ocean’s Eleven. Unfortunately, the premise is so high-concept and unique that it couldn’t ever be done again unless pitched as a remake. Maybe give it a few years.