EXHAUSTING CHASE FOR BOYISH LAUGHS
THE amount of pleasure you derive from the new comedy Tag may depend on how appealing you find its bizarre real-life subject: a group of friends in their forties who have been engaged in the same all-consuming game of tag since childhood.
If the prospect of grown men chasing each other around the country, scheming and strategising, hooting and hollering and bro-ing it up brings a smile to your face, this one’s for you.
If, on the other hand, you’ve always found the eponymous schoolyard pastime to be dull or exhausting or even, on occasion, a source of existential terror – Why me? How long will this last? – you’ll probably want to pass.
There are worse ways to kill a couple of hours than watching gifted goofballs like Ed Helms and Hannibal Buress mix it up with the suave likes of Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner, both working their comic chops.
And after the sloppy one-two stumble of I Feel Pretty and Life of the Party, Tag comes off as a model of proficiency and hustle – peppy and punchy enough, with satisfying bursts of slapstick.
But it also suffers from the gimmickiness and genericism that are the dual scourges of the contemporary studio comedy, which is in such a sorry state that a confidently executed triviality like Game Night is greeted as the second coming of classic screwball.
Like that film, Tag is neither bad nor good, but rather, despite its out-there story, almost numbingly ordinary: an easy, breezy action-com that’s sometimes amusing but rarely funny, competent rather than inspired.
A big-screen debut by Jeff Tomsic (whose TV credits include the great Broad City), the movie is based on a 2013 Wall Street Journal article that screenwriters Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen have adapted into a rowdy tale of man love and one-upmanship.
Every May for the past 30 years, the band of buds at the story’s centre has thrown itself into a no-holds-barred, month-long game of tag. They ambush each other at home and work, while their wives are in labour, during funerals; no setting is off-limits
Tag is a so-so comedy, but on second thought, it might have made a really good, twisted psychological thriller. – Hollywood Reporter
The cast of Tag stride out in style.