Tag

Review by Finley Crebolder

Directed by

Jeff Tomsic

Starring

Ed Helms Jake Johnson Jeremy Renner

Anticipation.

An intriguing premise for a film, based on an absurd true story.

Enjoyment.

An inconsistently funny but largely enjoyable ride.

In Retrospect.

Has plenty of heart and soul, but sometimes falls flat.

Silly schoolyard antics trip over into adulthood in this fitfully entertaining comedy of male friendship.

Do you remember when you and your friends decided to stop mucking about in the playground? Maybe it was at the end of school, after being mocked by the older kids. Or maybe, just maybe, you never stopped. This was the case for a group of friends who played a game of ‘tag’ that lasted for over 20 years. First made famous by a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, written by a journalist who had spent time with the friends, it seemed inevitable that this silly true story would be picked up by Hollywood.

With an absurd concept to work around, and a cast including Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm, Jeff Tomsic’s Tag makes for a fun and often heartfelt, if somewhat inconsistent, ride. The film focuses on the group’s last attempt to tag Jerry (Renner), the only remaining undefeated player. The quest brings the friends back to their Washington hometown, Spokane, and their target’s own wedding, an event they see as a golden opportunity to finally get Jerry. Chaos ensues over the next few weeks, with golf buggy chases, home invasions, the usual.

This may seem extreme for a game of tag, but the absurd opening scene immediately makes it clear just how far these friends will go. It sees Hogan (Helms), a man with a pHD, happily take a full-time job as a janitor, purely to get access to the building in which Callahan (Hamm) works. This sort of ludicrous humour is what the film relies on, but it sometimes, much like middle-aged men playing an extreme game of tag, falls flat on its face.

Nevertheless, when this happens, it’s through no fault of the cast. The more traditionally comedic actors (Helms, Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress) bring most of the laughs, while Renner and Hamm also show their funny side, although the former does still largely inhabit his usual all-action persona.

Perhaps surprisingly for a film that’s marketed as an all-out comedy, it excels when moving away from the laughs. When focusing on the enduring bond between the group, it successfully brings a lot of heart and soul, and a deeper meaning to a game of tag that you may not think possible. Rather than just being a story about grown men chasing each other, it is instead a story of friendship, and how, by holding on to their youth for one month each year, this friendship has lasted throughout their lives.

Published 29 Jun 2018

Tags: Ed Helms Jeff Tomsic Jeremy Renner

Anticipation.

An intriguing premise for a film, based on an absurd true story.

Enjoyment.

An inconsistently funny but largely enjoyable ride.

In Retrospect.

Has plenty of heart and soul, but sometimes falls flat.

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