‘TAG:’ A clever, boring summer comedy about some buddies just trying to stay close

‘TAG:’ A clever, boring summer comedy about some buddies just trying to stay close

‘TAG:’ A clever, boring summer comedy about some buddies just trying to stay close
June 20
16:53 2018

In an industry where experimenting with new ideas doesn’t usually pay off, every once in a while we get a clever, if a bit boring, film about friends doing their best to stay in touch through the childhood game of tag. It’s with great pleasure then that director Jeff Tomsic was given the green light to make such a hard movie for investors to get behind. These days, it seems the only guaranteed moneymakers are huge epics that rake in hundreds of millions of dollars.

“TAG” follows five friends, played by John Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson and the ever-meta Hannibal Buress, as they do their best to stay in touch. Every May for the last 30 years, the guys try to tag each other. The film follows the guys trying to tag Renner’s character Jerry, as he’s never been tagged and is retiring soon.

Right off the bat, I noticed fantastic music throughout, with samplings from OutKast, Tribe and more. It never felt too cliché — rather the music captured the goodwill and warmth of the friendships the guys grew up having together, as well as capturing the nostalgia of having a crew to grow up with. It wasn’t overstated, and it never felt out of place.

I think the film suffers a lot from some weirdly tired tropes, however, and the awkward, improvised style of comedy of Helms, Johnson and Buress starts to grate on the mind, like every other low budget comedy today. Don’t get me wrong, I laughed often. But there were just as many instances where I couldn’t tell what the actual punch line was meant to be because the setup was just fumbled horribly. This is a problem throughout, and after an hour I was looking at my watch.

Luckily, most of the performances carry the movie well enough based on likeability and charm. Hamm is comedically underrated, and he plays a well-adjusted millionaire goofball surprisingly well. “New Girl” star Johnson is pretty much playing the same character he’s always played: the pothead, scruffy loner. As always, I can’t help but appreciate it because it works for Johnson. Renner plays the devious escape artist all too well, although he feels mean-spirited at times, rather than part of a loving brotherhood of friends. Buress feels underutilized, making disingenuous quips every few minutes, and it sort of feels like he’s in the wrong movie. Helms grates from the get-go, unfortunately. His Will Farrell-esque style of the uncultured, prim and proper dork just isn’t very funny. Rashida Jones and Isla Fischer both have small roles, and while they’re both solid, Fischer is possibly the funniest aspect of the movie.

There’s not much else to say, besides that the concept here is extremely strong. It’s based on a true story — whatever that really means, of course — and it’s a fascinating framework to base a movie around. It’s too bad that it kind of drones on without any clear definition between a first, second and third act — it just kind of goes until it doesn’t anymore.

That being said, it’s dumb fun between some big-name actors, and I do appreciate that quite a bit.

My Rating: 2.5/5

Featured Image: Courtesy “TAG” Facebook

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Zach Helms

Zach Helms

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