EX­HAUST­ING CHASE FOR BOY­ISH LAUGHS

Pretoria News Weekend - - FILM - JON FROSCH

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.

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