The best comedies can usually be summarized in a single sentence that captures there absurdity. For example, Groundhog Day is about a weatherman who wakes up every day on February 2nd caught in an eternal loop. Tag is about a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag for over 30 years. It’s a great set-up for a comedy. It’s made even greater by the fact that it is based on a true story (you can click here to read The Daily Mail’s write-up of the true life game). I was lucky enough to be able to attend an advance screening of Tag (which opens wide on June 15th) and a great ensemble cast delivers the year’s second awesome comedy (rent Game Night immediately if you missed it).
Tag is exactly what it advertises itself to be: the absurd story of a childhood game that has taken over the lives of its now 40-something-old participants every May every year. This year’s game of tag is especially desperate for taggers Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Burress and Jake Johnson as their friend Jerry (Jeremy Renner) is getting married and retiring from their annual rite. Jerry has never been tagged…and that simply cannot be allowed to stand.
While the movie revolves around Renner, it’s the quartet’s increasingly epic hunt to corner the tag god that drives the film. Some of the set-ups for tags are amazing, and the film is consistently funny throughout. It’s so weird to go back to Mad Men and watch Jon Hamm once you find out he’s actually a giant goofball. He and Helms are my favorite taggers, but Isla Fisher nearly steals the film as Helms’s hypercompetitive wife. I could nitpick about the film being a bit overlong (most comedies are), but in judging comedy you ultimately just have to ask yourself if it made you laugh. It’s uneven in a few places, but I laughed consistently throughout the film. What really makes Tag shine is the postscript showing the real footage of the taggers the film is based on. You get to see what moments from the film actually happened and some that topped even the ones they included in the script. It was a very, very smart move to cap the film with the postscript. Ultimately, the reason they play is because the games we play together as friends bring us closer and give us a reason to stay close in a too-busy world that pulls us apart. I saw the film with my brother and whacked him on the back, called IT, and ran cackling to my car at the end of the night. I’m going to wrap this up so I can get a flashlight and make sure he’s not hiding out in my bushes…