Rating: I’ll go with a B on this one!
Summary: Childhood buddies spend every May playing a hardcore game of Tag.
Does B seem a bit high to you? Let me explain. I don’t normally see comedy movies and I’m not generally a physical comedy person. I don’t go out of my way to see Jeremy Renner ever. I’ve never watched Mad Men. I don’t like The New Girl. If Tag had starred its cast with original attachments Will Ferrell and Jack Black, I probably would have noped out of this altogether.
BUT. I do like The League, of which this is highly reminiscent. And for a movie that had a whole lot of nopes on paper, the trailer sure did make me laugh a whole lot, particularly:
“Synchronize your watches.”
“I don’t know how to do that.”
“I don’t have a watch.”
“TIME IS A CONSTRUCT.”
Ah, that line gets me every time. And the rest of the movie doesn’t disappoint- it’s a simple and entertaining movie, and laughable the whole way through, not because of something gross or over the top (Ugh, Blockers– I saw that and couldn’t even bring myself to admit it), but because of the dialogue and cast chemistry. My expectations were genuinely exceeded. I really mean that.
The premise is really, really simple: a group of childhood friends come together every May for a monthlong game of Tag. Not just “Tag, you’re it,” but elaborate schemes that involve dressing up as old ladies, funeral hugs, and hospital visits. When the group catches wind that GOAT Jerry (Renner) is retiring from the game without ever having been tagged, they begin planning on how to knock him down. The simplicity of the story and the motives of the characters really lets the cast shine as individuals and as an ensemble.
The film excels by drawing on familiar memories- we all remember growing up and doing stupid things with our friends; then when we run into those friends, we either reminisce about stupid things, fantasize about doing even more elaborate stupid things, or just straight up do more stupid things. Tag felt to me like the ultimate friend’s dream come true- what if my pals and I had been able to hold onto our childhood or our kid selves? What if I was able to play Nerf Guns in my friend’s basement for one month out a year? What if I made some random excuse- and got away with it- to head home, bond with buddies, and play a game for a month? I’m still good friends with them, but I can’t say we’re as close as back then. Man, I miss those dudes. I miss those days.
Of course, there’s some stuff that’s shoehorned in- a horror in the woods scene was a little long. And let’s talk about those female characters, who just feel incredibly forced like someone asked, “How do we get the women into the movie?” With the exception of the reporter, who is basically just there to ask the expository questions (don’t care; it’s fine, it works for what it is, moving on), the women and their relationships with the boy’s club just doesn’t feel natural. I get that this is something based on a real story among friends, but you couldn’t give me one tomboy? Rashida Jones had to be a part of a love triangle and couldn’t be the childhood friend one of the guys was meant to be with his whole life? Isla Fisher had to play the crazy wife who is super competitive at Tag for no reason? You couldn’t write one, organic role for a woman? They had to either be nuts or a sexy, desirable one? It was a little disappointing.
But not disappointing enough for that Michael Phelps line to not be funny! Ah, Hannibal Burress. You’re a treasure.
Outside of that and overall I appreciated the sentiment of the movie and of the characters. There is something genuinely touching about Tag, despite its outrageousness and immature nature and I had a great time watching it. It’s an easy watch and good for what it is.