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Review: Tag

Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm star in New Line Cinema's TAG

In watching so many movies over the course of my life, I’ve learned that most movies have potential to be good. A significant percentage of the time, it’s really about the skills of the filmmakers and their willingness to put as much effort into what they’re making as possible. When you do this, the movies may not be amazing, but they can actually come out better than what anyone expects. That’s what happens with Tag, a movie I did not have high hopes for.

Inspired by a true story, this movie focuses on five friends who have engaged in an intense game of tag since they were in first grade. Since they are adults living in different cities, they can’t take part in it as frequently as they did, so they play one month out of the year and go all out during that time. While it’s always been fun for them, this particular year is bigger than usual since the one player who’s never been tagged appears to be in position to finally be taken down since the distractions brought on by his upcoming wedding may turn him into an easy target.

There was no reason to believe that Tag was going to be as satisfying as it actually is. Taking something this silly and turning it into a movie could be seen as a bold move where the expectations were low, but the potential for failure appeared to be absolute. Based on that, allowing the movie to be nothing more than a source of cheap laughs could have been seen as expected and acceptable, but they decided to actually try to make it worth our while.

One way that you knew this wouldn’t be that kind of comedy is by simply looking at how the plot is properly utilized to set up a legit story. They don’t just jump right in with no explanation here. Instead, they give you everything you need to get as invested as you possibly can in a movie as unnecessary as this one. Believe it or not, this gives us a quick reason to get involved with the characters and their upcoming antics.

Of course, the premise of Tag forces it to be a comedy. This literally couldn’t fit into any other genre in the slightest, so they pretty much never really become all that serious about anything. This makes the film almost completely light since the people behind it know where it belongs and it doesn’t attempt to be anything more than that. Because of this, I guess you can look at it as an easy movie to get into while also never having to get too invested.

With this being structured that way, the only thing they really could focus on is the comedy. In the early portions of this flick, this doesn’t go as well as it could. There are some decent jokes, but nothing to really draw a reaction. This had me believing that we’d be in for a typical grotesque R rated comedy for adults that I’ve never really found to be all that amusing.

However, my outlook did change once the movie settles in and begins to get going. When this begins to happen, the comedy moves in a way that you would hope. I don’t know why, but Tag seems to get funnier and stronger as all the things being laid out begin to work together. Maybe it was that the filmmakers felt they gained more control over what they were doing as it came together, but it could likely be that the gags and antics just worked better.

I do know that a couple of things that work throughout is the tone and the sense of camaraderie that the characters have. Even when I wasn’t laughing in the early parts of this, I was at least able to acknowledge those as positive features from the start. While this never makes a movie great, it always helps when you get these two aspects functioning properly. When that happens, things usually aren’t as bad as they could be.

When you take everything into account, you’re able to see how and why Tag works as well as it does. This isn’t an epic comedy, but it’s entertaining enough simply because it knows what it is and wisely plays to its strengths. Trying to be too much would have hurt in a way that we see far too often during this period of time. In this case, you go in, get what you asked for, and find yourself being amused by the humor and effort that’s here.

Rating: R

Director: Jeff Tomsic

Ed Helms
Jake Johnson
Annabelle Wallis
Hannibal Buress
Isla Fisher,
Rashida Jones
Leslie Bibb
Jon Hamm
Jeremy Renner

Film Length: 100 minutes

Release Date: June 15, 2018

Distributor: New Line Cinema

  • Score - 6.5/10
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