Movie Review: Tag
By: Thomas Troyan
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” This is the driving quote behind 2018’s “Tag,” a film about five friends who have been a thirty year long game of tag, based on the true story of ten individuals who are still engaged in a game to this day. After being profiled by the Wall Street Journal in 2013, the group sold the film rights to their story, and five years later here we are.
The story focuses on Hogan or “Hoagie” (Ed Helms), the self proclaimed “soul of the game” as he attempts to gather up his friends with the news that this year their friend Jerry (Jeremy Renner) intends to quit after remaining untagged for thirty years. The roster of friends also includes Bob (Jon Hamm), an arrogant head of an insurance company, “Chilli” (Jake Johnson), a slacker/stoner who lives with his father, and Sable (Hannibal Buress), who seems to be their eccentric friend dragged along for the ride. These friends are joined by characters such as Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis), a Wall Street Journalist chronicling the story, Anna (Isla Fisher), Hoagie’s over-competitive wife, and Susan (Leslie Bibb), Jerry’s fiance who is dragged along in his attempts to remain untagged in his last season.
The film stands out from other contemporary comedies by focusing not on just scenes of comedy, but also a few creative action sequences as the groups try to tag each other, with many focusing on Jerry’s ability to avoid being tagged. While the spirit of competition is existent throughout the escapades of the five men, the film also uses their game to showcase the relationships that these friends have been able to maintain throughout their thirty-plus year friendship.
The film is also the directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic, and he does a moderately successful job of showcasing the talents of all of the actors in the film. My favorite performances came from Hannibal Buress, who seems to be able to make almost any line of dialogue funny, and Jeremy Renner, who’s over-competitive nature and sly maneuvers are an entertaining touch as he avoids remaining tagged. Ed Helms is a bit of a weak point for me admittedly, as I have never been his biggest fan, though he is given a few places to shine. My one major complaint is the inclusion of Rashida Jones, who while funny in scenes, takes the role of a love interest that never pays off and as a result doesn’t add much. Annabelle Wallis’ character suffers similarly as she isn’t given a whole lot to do in the film, though I do appreciate that her character isn’t turned into some kind of forced love interest.
Overall, “Tag” is a film full of moderately funny performances, and had enough going on to keep me interested in what was going to happen next. However there were aspects of the film that really just didn’t work, and left me feeling bored while I waited for the film to start up again. The film overall left me wanting more from its cast, as I felt like there were moments of wasted potential, though the film does end on a satisfying note that wraps everything up in a way that I thought it wouldn’t achieve. While it was hardly the best movie I’ve seen, if you’re looking for a decent comedy to waste an hour and a half on, there are worse options to choose.