The opening words “inspired by real events” are utterly baffling and simultaneously heartwarming. This plot actually happened! The story follows five friends who have been playing Tag (or Tig) since they were 9. Four of them team up to try and catch Jerry (Jeremy Renner) who has never been tagged. Like I said, I can’t believe this actually happened, but I’m glad it did because it provided a good 100 minutes of entertainment. (and it definitely did happen, because at the end we are treated to footage of the real guys playing it over the years)
Ed Helms leads the pack as “Hoagie”, who has been ‘it’ for over a year. We see him re-team up with Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm), “Chilli” (Jake Johnson) and Kevin Sable (Hannibal Buress), three of his four life-long friends, to capture Jerry on the lead up to his wedding day. This cast is fantastic, with everyone bringing something different to the table. I must say that while the others did have a decent amount of funny lines, it was Hannibal Buress who stole the show. His constant low-energy delivery provided most of the big laughs in the film, and kept the film from ever falling flat.
One key element that really worked were the failed tagging sequences involving Jeremy Renner. The film mythicises him, making his character Jerry a God of Tag. Because of this, Renner is seen analysing the situation in a fashion not dissimilar to 2009’s Sherlock Holmes film. Slow-mo and ultra-close ups are used to show his expertise at work, and this was a great spectacle that was very well executed.
Unfortunately, though the story itself was fantastically original, the actual film was quite bog-standard. The writing, while good, felt like it was wasting an incredible cast and unique set up with fairly basic comedy troupes. There’s a lot of slapstick, a hefty burst of stoner comedy, and when it tries to get emotional, it fails.
Though Tag won’t break any records, it was certainly an entertaining film. It never dragged, it maintained a good joke quota and, if nothing else, it was hilarious to see ultra-cool Jon Hamm getting stupidly childish for the sake of a game.