MOVIETALKY: Tag (2018)

Tag (2018)

Tag
Even though some wish that mainstream movies would be a little more intelligent, there’s still some films that are so intentionally brainless that you can’t help but appreciate them for their audacity.  Based on a true storyTag is about a bunch of attractive actors continuing their game of tag for decades…and nothing else (for the most part).  As the movie shows, it’s nice to sit back and relax every so often.
The following review will be spoiler free.

Synopsis

Directed By: Jeff Tomsic
Written By: Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen
Starring: Ed HelmsJon HammJake JohnsonHannibal BuressJeremy RennerAnnabelle Wallis, Isla Fisher, Leslie Bibb, and Rashida Jones
During the month of May every year, five friends play a game of tag.  They have an extensive rule book to keep everyone in check, but each of them still do not know when another one of them will pop up and tag them.  There’s just one catch: Jerry (Renner) has never been tagged, and the rest of the group is tired of it.
This year, Jerry’s wedding is taking place in May, and the rest of the group has concocted a plan to finally tag him and make him it.

Background

If you’ve seen any of the marketing material for Tag, you know that this movie is based on a real group of guys that actually played the same game of tag for almost thirty years.  After the actual story was shared in a piece in the Wall Street Journal back in 2013, the group of friends immediately received offers for the movie rights from studios.
But, shockingly, the most interesting story in the production of Tag isn’t that a group of grown men continued to play a child’s game for years, it’s that Jeremy Renner has CGI arms in the final print of the movie.  Seriously.
On one of the first few days of shooting, Renner broke his right elbow and his left wrist after falling twenty feet while performing a stunt.  A consummate professional, Renner actually performed the stunt again before going to the hospital.
For the rest of shooting, Renner wore two casts.  They were then removed in post-productionwith the help of some handy-dandy CGI.
If you ask me, it might’ve been pretty hilarious to keep the casts in the film as some ridiculous tag-related injury, but I guess Warner Bros. wasn’t keen on that idea.
tag
image via Vice

Tag Starts as the Perfect Relaxer Film

Let’s be real here for a second.  You get a little tired of movies that try way too hard to have far-reaching themes of love, loss, time, purpose, and anything else that gives indie filmmakers creative license to get a B+ actor to stare at a wall for an hour and half and pass it off as some intelligent piece of art.  We’ve all been there.
Every so often, you just need a film that wants to act as pure escapism — nothing is below the surface.  It’s nice to have a bunch of pretty faces act charming — that’s where Tag operates.  Tag is full of funny and beautiful people who want to have fun.  You can’t ask for much more than that with a film that has as little stakes or importance in society as this one.  It’s sole goal is to entertain, nothing more.  I have so much appreciation for a movie that just wants to be silly fun.
tag
image via Trailer Addict

Tag Includes Some Great Set Pieces Off of its Silly Concept

The makers of Tag took their silly premise and ran with it, creating almost surreal action set pieces out of the child’s game.  The actors treat the game like an action movie, jumping off buildings and developing elaborate traps for other players that accentuate the idea that they are all taking this game far too seriously.
The obvious highlight is Jeremy Renner as the most extreme of the group of friends.  He’s gone to great lengths to avoid his friends during the month of May, including keeping them from being a part of his wedding in any form.
Director Jeff Tomsic utilizes a lot of slow motion (emphasis on the slow) in the action while giving the viewer a sense of the actors’ inner thoughts.  The camera will focus on Renner and you’ll hear his thought process like a long string of text in a comic strip thought bubble.  Those thoughts are then combined with wacky hijinks that have people like Jake Johnson hanging off golf carts and Hannibal Buress getting smacked with a swinging log that is similar to a battering ram.  It’s insane, and that’s perfect for a movie that’s entitled Tag.
tag
image via Variety

The Premise Gets a Little Tired After While

But for all its promise, it feels like the creators ran out of fun ideas for these characters.  Tag loses steam somewhere around the end of the second act.  From there, Tag gives off the sensation that it was almost forced to have a sentimental core.  The movie swings from being silly to attempting to tug on ones’ heartstrings.  It’s never earned.  I’d much rather see a movie that doesn’t care at all about having an emotional center.  Who cares if these guys want to stay in each others lives — I’d rather watch Jeremy Renner do some more silly parkour.
Tag also becomes a little cruel which is in direct contrast to the sweeter moments it tries to pull off.  In its attempt to entertain, it becomes a bit mean-spirited.  It gets to the point where you wonder if you even like these characters anymore.
There’s too much fun in Tag to write it off completely for these issues, but they are there.
Side note (and this had nothing to do with my previous point): can we get Annabelle Wallis a meaty role?  Her character in Tag is a pointless audience stand-in. She’s way too talented for roles like this one.
tag
image via The New York Times

Final Thoughts

Tag knows that it’s stupid fun, playing into that fact with a bunch of silly, heighten tag sequences that never come close to serious.  The shtick gets a little tired after a while, but the incredibly over-qualified cast makes the film watchable all the way through.  Their talented actors; they know how to bring a smile to your face.
Audiences need a high-concept studio comedy to watch and relax to when they don’t feel like leaving their houses.  Tag is that movie through and through.  You’ll most likely enjoy it too if your expectations aren’t too high.  But then again, were they ever in the first place?

Grade: B

tag
image via Vulture
SOURCE: MOVIEBABBLEREVIEWS

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