July 3, 2018

Tag: Friends Play Kids’ Game in Fact-Based Cat-and-Mouse Comedy

By Kam Williams

When they were kids, five best friends from Spokane, Washington began playing a game of tag that, over the years, morphed into a cutthroat version where each would go to extraordinary lengths to pass on — or avoid becoming “It.” Several decades later, despite bearing all the responsibilities associated with adulthood, the guys were always trying to avoid a tap on the shoulder.

The five friends came to the attention of Wall Street Journal reporter Mark Steilen who wrote an article about them entitled, “It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being ‘It’.” Soon thereafter, Hollywood obtained the rights to their story.

This resulted in Tag. The movie is the directorial debut of Jeff Tomsic, who had previously only been in charge of assorted TV show productions. Tomsic assembled a big-name cast, with Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress, and Jake Johnson portraying the protagonists.

At the point of departure, we find Hoagie (Helms), a veterinarian by profession, taking a job as a janitor at an insurance company in order to tag Callahan (Hamm), the firm’s CEO. That gives you an idea of the elaborate ruses involved by the five players.

This movie gets an A for creativity, but its characters frequently resort to cursing that is an unnecessary distraction. After all, tag is still a little kids’ game, even if it’s big kids playing it. So, in this critic’s opinion, the film would’ve worked better with a less profanity-laden script.

Nevertheless, the series of screwball stunts held this critic’s interest, despite the cursing. Best of all, were the priceless clips that ran during the closing credits showing the real-life pals pulling off some of their pranks.

Very Good (**½). Rated R for pervasive profanity, crude humor, sexuality, drug use, and brief nudity. Running time: 100 minutes. Production Studios: Broken Road Productions/New Line Cinema. Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures.