'Tag' review: There's not a lot of truth to this "true" story

Tag

I mean, besides the basic premise itself.

Every trailer that you’ve ever seen for Tag has tried to drill the fact that this is based off a true story into your mind.

Don’t believe it.

Yes, the fact that there was an article in the New Yorker about a group of grown men who have been playing tag for the past 20 some years of their life is indeed true — and is a remarkably interesting story at that.

That fact is about all the real-life and Tag actually share in common though. This movie takes so many liberties that it’s practically Sherlock Holmes meets The Hangover.

For the past 27 years, Hoagie (Ed Helms), Bob (Jon), Chili (Jake Johnson) and Kevin (Hannibal Buress) have dedicated their entire lives to one goal. It’s not anything related to financials, family or some other normal hobby that any other grown man would have — they just want to tag their friend Jerry (Jeremy Renner).

Tag
credit: YouTube

They’ve been trying to do it ever since they were 9 years old and began their sacred game of May.

For the entire month, the five of them put aside their entire lives for this game. Whoever is ‘it’ can show up at any time, unannounced, and then do whatever it takes to tag another player.

The last five years or so have been a little different. Given Jerry’s perfect record, the other four have made an alliance to team-up again him.

That alliance hasn’t lead to much success, as Jerry, isn’t just your run-of-the-mill player. He gets super-intense and will do literally anything to escape whatever situation he’s put in — even if it means practically murdering his friends.

I mean, no one in the movie actually addresses the fact that Jerry almost murders the other four on multiple occasions, but he totally does. There’s one scene that takes place in the woods that would and definitely should result in four deaths. Luckily, this a light-hearted comedy so everyone survives it without a scratch on them.

Tag
credit: YouTube

This year, though, everything is different. Jerry’s on the brink of getting married and has already declared that he wants to retire at the end of the month. That means that the other four only have so many days left to tag him, or else it’s over for good.

So, things heat up quickly. During all of this, a reporter for the New Yorker — Rebecca Crosby (Annabelle Wallis) — decides she’s going to tag along (see what I did there?) and see if there’s a story that comes out of this.

I mean, we all know that a story does eventually come out of this, but that’s also not how reporting works. She’s assigned to one story and then decides to completely abandon it, on her own accord, to chase down another story that may or may not actually be accepted. Pretty sure that if the events in the movie played out like this in real life, she wouldn’t actually have a job.

That, however, is only like the seventh or eighth most unrealistic part about Tag. While this is heavily playing upon the fact that this is a true story, don’t walk into the theater expecting anything like that. Characters here basically have superpowers as they don’t hold back on the kinds of insane antics that they’ll get into.

Tag
credit: YouTube

That’s okay as long as you’re prepared for that and are willing to have fun with the premise. Because, on that, the general idea of Tag can be fun when it needs to be.

The script isn’t the smartest one I’ve ever seen, and also isn’t able to measure up to other comedies this year like Game Night or Blockers, but I appreciate the fact that there is actually a story here.

A lot of times, in comedies (especially studio ones), the directors will get together a large cast of funny people and then expect them to be able to come up with all the funny material by themselves. Just look at any Adam Sandler movie in the past ten years as an example — there isn’t any story, it’s just a bunch of forced improv that usually doesn’t land.

Tag at least has a story and a script that allows for certain character interactions and growth. I don’t necessarily think the movie hits these elements out of the park — all the messages about friendship and what that looks like when growing old are forced into the last ten minutes of the movie — but at least they’re there.

Tag
credit: YouTube

The real reason you’re going to see Tag is because you want to see the cast interact with each other, and for good reason. Everyone is more or less playing a version of themselves that we would expect them too — Jon Hamm is the successful one who feels too old for this, Jeremy Renner gets way into the whole thing, Ed Helms is trying to make sure the tradition lives on every year, Jake Johnson is the burnout drug-dealer and Hannibal Buress is the sarcastic deadpan one.

While this doesn’t call for lots of character development, they are all tropes that the actors are good at and can then bounce off each other with. The movie is funny and I laughed a pretty fair amount — especially any time that Hannibal Buress had a line, as I think he’s one of the funniest comedians working today.

The woman in this movie — Wallis, Isla Fisher and Rashida Jones — are all great too, however, they just sadly don’t get much to do. The movie wants to focus on the bromance between these five and how this game keeps them connected, which is fine and all, but it results in every female character being thrown to the side. It’s a shame because there’s so much promise that comes from these women — especially Fisher, who still steals every scene she’s in. They just don’t get a chance to fully utilize that.

Tag
credit: YouTube

If you’re looking for a dumb, over-the-top comedy with some funny gags (despite one towards the end that goes way too far), you’ll probably come away from Tag satisfied. There’s certainly a lot more they could have done with the concept and I think I would have rather seen a more factual version of this story that was made with actual emotional angles, but, for what it is, Tag feels light and breezy.

Watch the trailer for Tag here and then let us know, in the comments below, what you thought of the film.

'Tag' review: There's not a lot of truth to this "true" story
  • 'Tag' review: There's not a lot of truth to this "true" story
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Brandon Schreur

The fella over there with the hella good hair. Movies and TV are my jam, and the fact that I get to write about them on a regular basis is the bees knees.

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