Don’t Pick ‘Tag’ as Your Next Must-See Comedy

Tag_(2018_film)Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner are two of those serious, award nominated actors that you forget are actually pretty funny until they are given the chance to be, well, funny.

“Tag” is loosely based on a true story of a group of grown childhood friends (Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner) who every year spends the entire month of May playing the game of tag. With one of them retiring having never been caught, the rest of the group sets out to finally make him “it.” Annabelle Wallis, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones and Leslie Bibb also star as Jeff Tomsic makes his directorial debut.

I wasn’t overly looking forward to this one, the trailer was only half amusing and it looked like it had the potential to be a total nightmare of a train wreck a la last summer’s “The House,” but I am a fan of every member of the cast so I held out some hope. Unfortunately, after a promising start and a few amusing running gags, the thin premise quickly wears out and the film crawls for the duration.

All I can really say about the cast here is none of them are trying anything new and are all playing to type. Jake Johnson is the stoner, Jon Hamm is the successful businessman, Jeremy Renner is the cool guy, Ed Helms the optimist and Hannibal Buress squints and makes “that’s whack” retorts. There is nothing wrong with that, and the fact these guys are doing what comes naturally to them gives them a little bit of chemistry. The issue is the script doesn’t really give us any reason to believe that this group of guys, all in different cities and different phases and successes in life, would actually be friends besides the fact they keep saying how they’re all friends.

The film opens with one of the guys trying to infiltrate the office of another in order to tag them and that was entertaining. Every time someone tries and tag Renner (who has never been tagged) a little monologue of Renner’s thoughts plays (“he is approaching from the left. Activate spin move to dodge.”), that is entertaining. But besides that there is just so much filler to get this to a theatrical runtime that is really drags for a majority of the film; this likely falls on the high-concept plot and rookie director Tomsic.

There was a solid 30 minute window where I didn’t so much as crack a smile and by the time the climax was rolling around I just wanted the film to wrap up, and didn’t buy into the 11th hour attempt at dramatic emotional pandering that they try and pull off.

Somewhere buried deep within “Tag” is a solid message about friendship, and the actors do look like they’re having fun (plus Renner broke both his arms performing a stunt so you know he was dedicated to the project). But the fact this is a 100 minute runtime and not 85 is baffling and I just wish that this was more amusing than it turned out being.

Critic’s Grade: C–


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