Tag a fun, but for­get­table ride

Toronto Sun - - SHOWBIZ - — The Wash­ing­ton Post Run­ning time: 1 hour, 40 mins.

Tag, a ge­nial com­edy about best buds who have been play­ing the same game of tag for 30 years, is about ar­rested ado­les­cence at its core.

And this hap­haz­ard col­lec­tion of set­ups, stunts and gags has that same scat­ter­shot, di­gres­sive en­ergy. The best way to ap­pre­ci­ate this fit­fully funny col­lec­tion of japes and jests is to treat it like any teenage boy in your midst: Fo­cus on the pos­i­tives and know that even its worst is only a phase.

As a Hang­over-es­que bro­mance-slash-ac­tion com­edy, Tag is mostly set pieces dur­ing which the prin­ci­pals try to out­smart and cor­ner each other: Direc­tor

Jeff Tom­sic stages th­ese se­quences as typ­i­cal slow-mo­tion shootouts, only with pow­dered dough­nuts and knit­ting bags as ammo.

But it’s all in good fun within the world of a film in which the bruises and scrapes are never more than cos­metic and com­pe­ti­tion is a barely sub­li­mated form of dude-love at its most ride-or-die. With the ex­cep­tion of a bizarre re­cur­ring joke in­volv­ing mis­car­riage and an over­ar­ch­ing de­light with f-bombs and gar­den-va­ri­ety raunch, Tag wears its innocence on its polo-shirt sleeve, even sneak­ing in a shame­less play for sym­pa­thy late in the third act.

The key to Tag’s suc­cess lies in the ensem­ble of ac­com­plished comic play­ers, who mesh here with an­tic, good-na­tured chem­istry.

Helms and Hamm are joined by Jake John­son, Han­ni­bal and Jeremy Ren­ner. Isla Fisher is less in­gra­ti­at­ing as Helms’ cut­throat wife, and Annabelle Wallis of­ten looks ut­terly at sea as the Jour­nal reporter who joins the guys on their great­est “get” ever.

But thanks to the movie’s nim­ble group of ac­tors, their dead­pan in­te­rior mono­logues and some well-ex­e­cuted am­bushes and booby traps, Tag winds up be­ing an un­de­mand­ing, if in­stantly dis­pos­able, plea­sure.

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