Tag tells the story of a group of friends whose annual game of tag has lasted for over 20 years. The only thing more ridiculous than the premise of this movie is the fact that it’s actually based on a true story. There is something obviously strange about a group of grown men playing tag; it’s beyond strange when that game stretches across decades. This absurd story is certainly interesting but does it have any cinematic value? The only thing stranger than being apart of adult tag, is watching adult tag. This creates a rather steep uphill battle for this movie. This is curbed a bit by a deep and talented cast, led by a fully invested Jeremy Renner. Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher and Rashida Jones join Renner to build a strong comedic cast. It’s this cast that does most of the heavy lifting throughout Tag. This group has to not only portray a tight knit group of friends but they have to make their game of tag entertaining and engaging. This group is able to accomplish all that it needs to, mainly off the basis of great chemistry. They feel like a real group of friends that really play this game. Their chemistry led to an incredibly fun experience. This is a fun group of people to watch and that is the charm of this movie. It is fun people doing something fun and therefore it is impossible for you to not have fun watching it.
As I said earlier the cast is incredible. Each member of the cast has found success elsewhere and was able to bring that to Tag. Each actor made their own impact on the movie and that’s why the cast is the strongest element. However, there was one performance that really stood out time and time again, and that was Isla Fisher. She was absolutely incredible. Her intensity and passion helped to make her a scene-stealer. What really takes this character over the top are the little moments of depth given to her character. She plays Anna Malloy, Hogan Malloy’s (Ed Helms) wife. Normally this character just exists to serve the husband and doesn’t really get a lot to do. That is not the case here. Fisher is given a lot to do. She is a part of the game because of the relationship her and her husband have. They are both overly competitive and passionate, that comes across almost immediately. The bit of depth that is added to her character helps to round out her character and makes her real. As great as all of that is, the real reason why she shined is because she is hilarious. In a movie full of funny people she provides the most memorable moments. Her first appearance gave a good indication for what was to come. When Chilli (Johnson) runs her over to prevent getting tagged, she looks up with a bloody nose, screams Chilli’s movements so Hogan can get him. You can’t help but laugh. It’s unexpected, overly aggressive and so fun. She continued to bring that all throughout the movie. This is my favorite performance in this movie and of her career.
Isla Fisher’s performance was great and it was a bit of a surprise, another surprise was the actual tag sequences. These sequences may be the most important part of the movie to get right because if these sequences aren’t fun and engaging, then this movie doesn’t work. Director Jeff Tomsic was able to make some incredibly fun sequences. He was able to capture the craziness of the actual game and what it would look like for adults to play. The very first tag sequence is a perfect example of this. We are introduced to Bob Callahan, a successful businessman, sitting down for an interview with the Wall Street Journal. In walks Hogan in disguise as a janitor at Bob’s company. They run around the table a bit and Bob tries to throw a chair through a glass window to escape. The glass doesn’t break and Bob gets hit with the chair and gets tagged by Hogan. This scene captures a lot about what is great and fun about this movie. You are immediately reminded of the childlike joy and angst that comes with playing this game. You remember getting cornered and being willing, in that moment, to do anything to just get away. We also get to see just how ridiculous this all is; he stopped an interview with the Wall Street Journal to play this game. He tried to break a glass window at his job to escape and wasn’t all that concerned that he looked like a complete fool the whole time. All of this worked and it was a great opening scene and table setter for the rest of the movie. As it went along the tag sequences only got better and more ridiculous. They progressed in improbable and ridiculous ways but that made it all the more fun. This movie knows what it is and it doesn’t try to be anything more. It leans into how ridiculous this all is and by doing that we can let our guards down and just have a good time.
That is exactly what Tag is, a good time. It’s fun from beginning to end. It’s not a perfect movie. It doesn’t have a clean story and is incredibly ridiculous but none of that matters because it is so much fun. The characters are memorable, the pacing is great and the actual game is very engaging. By the time we get to the last tag sequence, you want to get out of your chair and play yourself. This movie also ends on such a heartfelt high note that you leave the theater feeling great about the whole experience. If you are looking for a good time, then this is the movie that you want to go see.
4 out of 5 stars
Director: Jeff Tomsic Writers: Rob McKittrick, Mark Steilen & Russell Adams (based on his Wall Street Journal article) Starring: Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, Jeremy Renner, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb & Annabelle Wallis Release Date: June 15th Rated: R Runtime: 1 hour and 40 minutes Image Credit: TAG