“TAG” is an entertaining comedy that relies heavily on it’s wonderful cast to expand upon a film filled with consistent jokes and an extremely odd premise. In turn, crafting a movie that is surprisingly heartfelt and thrilling all at the same time. The question needing answered is, was Jeremy Renner’s absence in the first “Infinity War” worth a simple game of tag? Let’s see…
“TAG” is Jeff Tomsic’s theatrical debut, and he succeeds enormously with this ultimately risky comedy that by all means shouldn’t have worked as well as it wound up working. Fast paced during the sequences of tag and a slick “Sherlock Holmes” reminiscent style with Renner’s actions being thought out step by step, the film is a well directed comedy. Speaking of “TAG,” I’m going to tag this complaint in with the direction: the trailer ruins one of the crucial scenes the film builds up to and really ruins it’s execution. But beyond that trailer spoiler, the film shies away from “The Simpson’s Movie” effect and manages to be a really well coordinated laugh riot that happens to have moments of a successful action film. “TAG” is more a movie about a group of adults’ friendship than the game itself, so the game doesn’t always obtain the feeling of the titular game we all grew up with until right before the film’s fade to black.
Most of the jokes in the film land with maximum impact, while others do sort of fizzle away. The film is more about the characters’ ‘true story’ friendship than the game itself and is a fantastic film about friendship. From the writer of “Waiting…,” a beloved comedy that people unfortunately forget about, exists amongst Ryan Reynolds redeemed career. He creates a fantastic character piece that soars primarily due to the actors involved. The film is only 100 minutes long, but it feels longer and more fully realized than a short film of that length usually is. For the premise alone, “TAG” is worth a look, but luckily the writers managed to create a hilarious movie about a children’s game and continuously surprise the audience in nearly every scene. The only troubling aspect that is worth bringing up is the use of Rashida Jone’s Cheryl, who even mentions that she was brought into the film just to be a distraction. But even with that little nod to the audience, her side plot of having Jon Hamm’s Callahan and Jake Johnson’s Randy fighting over the chance of talking to her, is by far the most underwhelming element of the film. It feels tacked on at the last minute beyond the initial distraction, but even that seems unnecessary in the whole of things. It’s a triumph in the writing that an abrupt emotional moment is as impactful as it is due to the development of the characters and their long-lasting friendship continuously evolving.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
This cast is loaded with some impressive talent: Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Isla Fisher, Hannibal Buress, and Jeremy Renner; all of whom have fantastic chemistry. The entire cast seems to be having a blast while filming every scene, with genuine banter and improv back and forth. Their friendship appears real and it’s partially due to their energy on top of their acting, along with the fact that they seem to be having just as much fun as their characters, which really gives an extra push to their likability. It also helps that the characters are basically all likable beings and none really come off as eye rollingly annoying, and all appearing as real friends. As previously mentioned, the only true fault in the characters is Rashida Jone’s unnecessary Cheryl, as even her acting makes her seem like she doesn’t want to be there as much as any other cast member.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
The score is thrilling and fast paced, truly fitting the tone of the movie with its instrumentals. What drops the sound design down is not the excellent use of old fashioned crashing and impact punch noises similar to the classic design of films like “Indiana Jones,” but instead the lyrical popular songs that trigger an overall downfall in this category. Every song featured in the movie fails to properly fit the situations occurring on screen, creating an awkward pairing. It’s good to note that the end credits provide a very funny and unforeseen music video-esque singing (or lip syncing) of a song simply titled “Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm” if you stay to the end.
A completely personal gripe is that it’s difficult to tell what aspects were directly translated from the ‘true story’ and what was changed for a better film, so I can’t fully fault it for its lack of creativity in costume design. As a noteworthy fact, Jon Hamm on “Ellen” shared a story that Jeremy Renner was injured on Day Four of Production, breaking both his arms, so the special effects crew had to digitally add his arms in more scenes. Incredibly enough, without notification of this prior to the screening, it would not have affected this detail at all, but now it’s just a bonus note. The reason this is worth mentioning is because of certain other recent releases and their improper usage of CGI covering up a simple contractual facial feature, that did not give a good name to the special effects department in that movie. Beyond that, the few action scenes involving the game of tag were well executed, especially the outrageous forest tag scene that is beyond anything I would have expected from a movie based around a childish game.
“TAG” is a heartfelt theatrical debut from director Jeff Tomsic, with the help of his fantastic cast’s chemistry and a hilarious screenplay revolving around the childhood game of tag - this comedy manages to be a surprising must-see comedy whose odd and simple premise makes it worth viewing a time or two just for fun.