Tag is one of those rare comedies where the jokes land more often than they don't and there is genuine heart behind all of the humor.
Director: Jeff Tomsic
Summary: A small group of former classmates organize an elaborate, annual game of tag that requires some to travel all over the country.
While walking to our cars from the early screening I attended for Tag, another critic and I watched as four grown men sprinted across the parking lot. They chased each other for a moment before one of them yelled, "I'm going to tag you, motherf**ker!" The other critic and I just sort smiled and shook our heads while wondering if this was going to be a thing. But after seeing this movie, that doesn't seem like such a bad notion.
The trailers for Tag haven't quite been selling the movie that ended up in theaters. They are focusing a lot on what trailers for comedy movies always focus on: the jokes. In this case it's focusing a lot on the slapstick element of the jokes and the physical comedy. However, the part that makes Tag such a good movie isn't just the jokes and physical humor — it's the message behind the movie and the heart behind the story. We're watching a group of adults fighting against the idea of drifting apart by continuing to act like children for one month out of the year.
This movie wouldn't work nearly as well without the great cast. We have a bunch of gifted actors and comedians that are all putting forth their A-game. Ed Helms and Hannibal Buress always funny, but the surprising standouts are Jon Hamm and Isla Fisher. Hamm might be dressed like Don Draper in this movie with the slicked-back hair and fancy suit, but he has excellent comedic timing. Fisher is probably the standout as the hyper-competitive wife of Helms's character. She really goes for it and gets some of the biggest laughs in the entire movie. Jake Johnson is right at home as the lazy, stoner friend, and Jeremy Renner is clearly having fun at the hyper-competent and hyper-competitive "winner" of the game.
However, while everyone is funny, the idea behind the game and the way these guys clearly care so much about each other is the thing that elevates the movie from good to great. By the end it's very heartwarming and does, as previously stated with the parking lot anecdote, inspire you to hang on to being a kid no matter what. You'll miss the people you've drifted away from, and the thought that there's a group of guys out there really doing this every year is so nice to think about.
That's not to say there aren't a few flaws here and there. There are a couple of jokes that either miss the mark entirely or go over that line just a little bit. Annabelle Wallis isn't given that much to do aside from being the person who decides to go on this little adventure for journalistic purposes. And while it is a minor quirk, there could've been more flashbacks showing the various weird places the guys have been tagged over the years.
Tag is a lot of fun and way better than this critic thought it was going to be. The cast and crew clearly realized that while this is a comedy, it is, at the end of the day, a feel-good story, and it honed in on that. It elevates the entire production from a pretty good comedy to a great one because of that added heart.