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TAG (2018)

CAST
LESLIE BIBB
HANNIBAL BURESS
BRIAN DENNEHY
NORA DUNN
ISLA FISHER
JON HAMM
ED HELMS
JAKE JOHNSON
RASHIDA JONES
JEREMY RENNER
ANNABELLE WALLIS

BASED ON THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE “IT TAKES PLANNING, CAUTION TO AVOID BEING IT” BY
RUSSELL ADAMS

SCREENPLAY BY
MARK STEILEN

PRODUCED BY
WILL FERRELL
TODD GARNER
SEAN ROBINS
MARK STEILEN

DIRECTED BY
JEFF TOMSIC

GENRE
ACTION
COMEDY

RATED
AUS:M
UK:15
USA:R

RUNNING TIME
100 MIN

 

 

Tag image

The infectious camaraderie amongst its cast and spirited direction from Jeff Tomsic makes Tag a surprisingly workable action-comedy, that takes the “based on a true story” label to a ridiculous yet fun new level.

There is a spectrum for the whole “based on a true story” declaration. Where on one side is your run of the mill biopic, on the other is (for example) the demonic-possession movie, supposedly based on documented yet not entirely verified events. Tag firmly belongs somewhere in the middle. The film is indeed inspired by the story of a decades long game of tag between childhood friends who try to one-up another in a bid to not be “it”. As reported in The Wall Street Journal back in 2013, no matter of disguise or length of distance is off the table. When the game is on, it is most definitely “on!”

Tag, in typical creative-license Hollywood style, takes this fascinating male bonding ritual into the fantastical. As directed by Jeff Tomsic (his feature film debut), this is a film with a fun spirit at its core, with the art of pursuit and the rush of the chase felt in every well-choreographed yet incredibly silly “action” set piece, that plays glue to a bromance comedy.

Tag focuses on a small group of childhood friends – eager Hoagie (Ed Helms), successful Callahan (Jon Hamm), stoner Randy (Jake Johnson), and befuddled Sable (Hannibal Buress) – who for decades have played the game of “tag” during the month of May. The group unite in a last-ditch effort to tag the untaggable Jerry (Jeremy Renner) during his upcoming wedding weekend. That is if tensions within the group don’t tear them apart first.

Apparent is the camaraderie between these grown men who find solace and connection through a children’s game. Ever actor brings a personable charm to their respective roles, especially Jon Hamm and Jake Johnson as friendly rivals who squabble over the affections of childhood crush Cheryl (Rashida Jones). Jeremy Renner bring the part of action man to proceedings, with his Jerry a combination of Navy Seal and super spy. Imagine if Hawkeye attended a class reunion, and then you will get the picture. Meanwhile Isla Fisher steals scenes with her bombastic turn as Hoagie’s super competitive wife Anna.

Equally impressive are the action scenes. Never has a game a tag felt so alive and so over-the-top as presented here. This is especially so when Renner is in the mix. Flips, jumping through glass, swinging tree logs, slinging donuts…  everything and anything is on the table, including a foot chase between Helms and Johnson that pays tribute to Kathryn Bigelow’s action classic Point Break.

Of course, it’s all very silly. In some cases, even wincingly over the line on what these characters are willing to say and do in order not to be “it”. Yet as sophomoric boys-will-be-boys comedies go, Tag has got the right stuff.

 

***

 

 

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