‘Tag’ is based on the unique true-story of a group of friends who have played the same game of tag for over thirty-years. On paper, the plot-line of a group of buddies playing a game of tag into their adult life feels quirky but doesn’t seem like a recipe for a successful comedy. Those were my thoughts when I read the press-release. But once I saw the trailer, with the concept in visual form, and seeing the cast that was lined up for it, I was instantly excited.
After watching I think it could end up being the breakout comedy of the summer, and possibly one of the better comedies of the calendar year when all is said and done. I was hoping for some laughs and a story that could grab my attention, and I think it delivers all of that and so much more. It keeps a tight pace and hit the dramatic elements of the story perfectly to not kill the flow but still land the intended message. The comedy shines with a combination of great writing that captures the banter between old buddies so naturally, and by crafting some hysterical bouts of situational humor.
The true-story this film is based on provides plenty of material to weave laughs from on its own and it doesn’t require too much added spectacle to create some hysterical scenes. The movie doesn’t try to do too much. It embellishes where it needs to for some effective humor but doesn’t get greedy at the cost of believability. Another major positive for this one is the cast. They all were able to take already solid material and elevate it with their performances. They have a strong chemistry with one another that makes their lasting friendship feel genuine. It makes it so much easier to connect with each of them to see how the game impacts their lives in different ways.
You get to know the characters quickly while still consuming some effective laughs which makes for an entertaining theater experience. There were some laugh-out-loud moments and each of the cast members have their moments to shine with shades of their own personalities woven into the characters. Ed Helms has been wearing a little thin with me over the past few years, but he was excellent in this role. His timing was great, and it was fun to see him working within a script that could truly utilize his sense-of-humor without forced moments to hinder things.
Jake Johnson was awesome in this role and so effortlessly amusing. It’s a cliche character-type without question, but I thought he nailed it with a sharp delivery that sold all his lines and his offbeat expressions. Jon Hamm was solid and may not have shined comedically, but he was able to carry time between the comedic set-ups very nicely.
Hannibal Buress was able to land some great lines with his unassuming delivery as well and Jeremy Renner was fantastic. I’m really enjoying the sense-of-humor and charm from Renner coming out more in recent roles. He has a nice timing, he can say a lot with his face alone, and he has some great laughs in this one as well to hold his own with the group.
This film turned out to be one well-structured comedic set-piece after the other. Woven together nicely with a story-line that was able to progress without requiring too much screen-time to take away from the charm of the characters and the hilarity of the plot-points. There are some hilarious uses of slow-motion work that create some great sequences as these guys try to tag one another.
They merge between dance-like sequences to some fight-style sequences. All in the tone of humor and this was the best use of slow-motion in film I have seen in many years as it brought out the comedy in what would otherwise be simple scenarios. It delivered so much more than I was expecting. It was unique, the humor was clever and ambitious. It may have followed a familiar story-arc, but it was woven with more than enough unique dynamics to make it a breath of fresh air in the genre, and worth checking out in theaters this weekend.