As the old adage goes: Never judge a movie by how stupid its trailer looks. I was… not excited to see this movie. The trailers looked stupid and I just really wasn’t in the mood to throw away an evening on an empty movie. The only scrap of intrigue was that I heard it was based on a true story; even so, I had bet my farm on the fact that there would be so many artistic liberties taken with this one that any chance of it resembling the original source material was slim.
I’m so glad that I was wrong.
“Tag” is a surprisingly sweet film that makes the absolute most out of its star-studded ensemble. Under all the silly comedy is actually a really great message and a fascinating story. And if I’m being perfectly square, the comedy isn’t all that silly and a lot of the humor lands. “Tag”, I’m happy I gave you a shot.
“Tag” tells the story of a small group of schoolmates that have been playing an ongoing game of tag since boyhood. As the gang grows up, the game gets more elaborate and the stakes get higher and higher.
The actual story behind “Tag” reads pretty much the same way. A group of friends refused to let the childhood game die and they’ve been playing for 23 years. Marriage, jobs, and spreading across the country has not stopped this band of brothers from staying in contact, both literally and figuratively. It’s really an amazing story. Even more amazing is that some of the most improbable gags in the film were actually pulled from reality.
“Oh, very funny. He disguises himself as an old lady to sneak up on his mark. No way did that happen”, says Cynic the Critic (me).
As it turns out, that’s exactly what happened and we’ve got the post-credits footage to prove it.
“Tag” is directed by Jeff Tomsic and features an all-star cast including Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, and Hannibal Buress. This ensemble does incredible work together and there’s not a weak link among them.
“Tag” does suffer slightly from a mild case of the Stupids. Some of the jokes are awkward and fell flat with me and my crowd, that night. Jake Johnson’s Chilli character leaned a little too heavily on the pot humor in an unseemly, Rogen-esque fashion. Isla Fisher is essentially reprising her “Wedding Crashers” role. For people that like that sort of thing that is the sort of thing they like. It was a miss for me, this time around.
This was all ultimately forgivable because “Tag” has the heart to spare.
I’m not gonna wax poetic about the importance of growing up, but not growing old and the power of friendship. You all get it. “Tag” really gets it and is able to take this unlikely story and present it with such authenticity that it makes all the gags and giggles come off as incredibly sincere. Not easy to do but, in this case, very well done.
I give it a soft recommendation. Definitely rental worthy. However, you choose to view it, just be sure to watch it with your bestie.
Caitlin is a lean, mean writing machine based in Austin, TX. Her love of film began when she was shown “Rosemary’s Baby” way too early in life. She currently serves as the Lead Film Contributor for Shuffle Online; other notable bylines include The Financial Diet and Film Inquiry. Caitlin is a member of the Online Association of Female Film Critics and the Women Film Critics Circle.