TAG is directed by Jeff Tomsic and stars Ed Helms, Jake Johnston, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, Leslie Bibb, Radisha Jones, Annabelle Wallis, Jon Hamm, and Jeremy Renner.
Good comedies are pretty hard to come by nowadays. If they’re not wholly focused on how funny they think they are, they’re often times messy, convoluted, generic, or downright boring. Very rarely does a director/writer combo realize that in order for their comedy to be a good film, it needs to be exactly that above all else: a good film. Where TAG largely succeeds over many modern comedies is in its commitment to being a good film first and foremost.
The film, about five adult friends who have been playing the same game of Tag (yes, as in, playground tag) for 30+ years, carries the weight of arguably one of the silliest concepts I think I’ve ever seen put to film. Yet, this film takes its absurd concept and reforms it into an endearing story of childhood, friendship, and aging, making for a solid comedy and a great summer night at the movies.
One of the pivotal forces behind this film is definitely the cast. The film boasts a powerhouse lineup, and many of the talents on this roster bring a unique dynamic to their performances, and to the chemistry between the characters. The five male friends playing tag especially had airtight chemistry, which actually helped make the premise seem all the more believable. Johnston, Buress, Helms, and Fisher were the standouts in my mind, with great moments and lines also coming from Renner and Hamm (who is surprisingly quite the comedic powerhouse).
And again, this film takes its ridiculous premise and tells a surprisingly mature story along with it. It explores deeper questions and ideas that might stem from these actual events (after all, the film is based on a true story). The way that the film deals with harder concepts of life in the face of such an innocent children’s game is actually what I’m going to remember most about this film. There are plenty of curse words, and you’re it’s, and elaborate tagging schemes, but what does that all mean when you’re a 40+ something-year-old adult? In the face of such an absurd concept, I can’t praise this film enough for just how smart it is.
Where the film begins to falter is in its pacing. Despite the fact that the concept of grown-adult-tag is done surprisingly well here, for the most part, it’s exactly what you’d expect: grown adults playing tag. A large majority is devoted to four of the friends attempting to tag the 30+ year undefeated champion, as well as the trial and error that goes along with doing so. This does bog the film down a little in its pacing and narrative, especially around the middle. However, this actually cleans up quite nicely towards the end, making for what is a surprisingly well-done and emotional conclusion. It’s also worth noting that while this film has quite the talented cast, it’s a large cast too. This resulted in various players such as Jones and Wallis kinda being pushed to the background, making for almost forgetful performances at times.
Ultimately, TAG is a hell of a surprise. It takes the ingredients of a lackluster comedy and turns it into a great film full of heart and excellent performances, making for one of the better comedies I’ve seen in a while. It stumbles, struggles, and even can tend to lose its footing every now and again. But, when all is said and done, it manages to find the right notes where it counts most. TAG will make for a terrific night out at the movies and gets a B.