This post is a part of our New Voices Section.
Written by Amarú Moses.
How many of you all have a stupid yet amazing inside joke/game/thing that you and your friends still do ‘til this day. I know my friends and I have at least five different inside jokes in which people look at us like we are crazy. Yet, I feel like we have completely dropped the ball after watching the greatest real-life friends’ tradition played out in the new comedy Tag. These men put us all to shame, and do not be surprised if next May (or even sooner) you randomly see grown men and women playing tag in your local mall.
Tag is based on a true story of lifelong friends who have been playing the same game of tag every May for the past 30 years. Hogan (Ed Helms) learns that the group’s ultimate champion Jerry (Jeremy Renner) is retiring from the game after 30 years of never being tagged. Determined to finally put a hand on him, Hogan and his wife Anna (Isla Fisher) gather the other players Bob (Jon Hamm), Chilli (Jake Johnson), and Sable (Hannibal Burris) to team up and tag Jerry before his wedding ends at midnight on May 31st.
As an overall moviegoing experience, Tag was extremely entertaining and heartwarming. The music alone was enough to make you wish you for the days when you were young, though you’re not a kid anymore, but this day you will sit and wish you were a kid again. From that Ahmad classic to the perfect song to go with the movies opening scene, Pharcyde’s “Runnin’”, the music shapes the jovial vibe the movie brings. This vibe is what carries the comedy because, unfortunately, the individual jokes were more hits than misses. There were three-too-many physical comedy jokes (many of which were seen in the actors’ other films) and two-too-few raunchy intelligent jokes (also seen in previous Helms and Hamm films). However, one running bit that did work surprisingly well was a reference to a film that includes one of Renner’s Avenging co-stars. These well-thought gags created an aura of merriment that makes Tag something you want to see with a group of your friends. The laughter from the actors on the screen and your friends next to you is extremely contagious.
The cast was perfectly assembled to make you feel like the tag players (and allies, since 9-year-old boys who create tag games often don’t include girls) never let their inner-child die. The actors looked like they had the best time filming the movie, and it carried over to their performances. Jon Hamm continued to show his prowess for comedic timing. Johnson is his hilarious self, so he is basically still Nick from New Girl. Helms plays every Ed Helms character he has ever played. Hangover Helms, Vacation Helms, and We’re the Millers Helms. All the same Helms as Tag Helms. So, he ends up being extremely likeable. Hawkeye is as cool as Jeremy Renner wants to be (yes, Clint Barton is an extremely cool guy!!!). You want to be friends with the entire ensemble, but two in the crew stand outs. Burris is one of the only characters whose jokes never miss, mostly because if you aren’t laughing you are looking like him with “What in the World?” eyes because of his outlandish and obviously improved lines. Then there is Isla Fisher. She is out of her mind. If you have seen Wedding Crashers, then you know how full-blown crazy she can go. She taps into that character again and brings everybody along for the ride.
The individual cinematic and comedic aspects of Tag are often cliché, run-of-the-mill, and not as funny as you want them to be. Yet somehow, the sum of all of its parts creates a film that you kind of don’t want to end. There are enough laughs and smiles from the concept and the characters that even though it didn’t fulfill its comedic potential, Tag is an enjoyable film that brings all the nostalgic feels.