FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: On Friday, I saw “Tag,” which stars Ed Helms (The Office [TV series], The Hangover), Jon Hamm (Bad Times at the El Royale, Baby Driver), Jeremy Renner (Avengers: Endgame, The Bourne Legacy), Jake Johnson (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, New Girl [TV series]), Hannibal Buress (Spider-Man: Homecoming, Neighbors), Isla Fisher (Hot Rod, Rise of the Guardians), Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy , X-Men: First Class), Leslie Bibb (Iron Man, Law Abiding Citizen), Rashida Jones (Parks and Recreation [TV series], Celeste & Jesse Forever), Steve Berg (The Good Place [TV series], When Jeff Tried to Save the World), and Nora Dunn (Pineapple Express, Bruce Almighty). It is directed by Jeff Tomsic (Good at Life [TV movie], This Is Not Happening [TV series]), and written by Rob McKittrick (Waiting…, Mancrush) and Mark Steilen (The Settlement, The Pooch and the Pauper [TV movie]). Inspired by a true story, five friends who have been playing the same game of tag for thirty years come together once more to take down the one player who hasn’t been tagged yet.
What can I say? Combine an intriguing concept and basic humor, and you get “Tag.” It’s the pure essence of small comedy feature, where the story, conflict, and characters are fairly straight-forward, with hardly any serious thought needed to be taken into consideration when watching the film unravel. I’m not really bagging on “Tag,” mind you. It knows what it is and I’ll review it as such. When it was being marketed, I was interested since the flick is inspired by a true story where a group of friends have been playing the same game of tag for over thirty years. You couldn’t make up that kind of stuff. And “Tag” delivers on the story in some good ways. It has a stellar cast, made up of comedians, drama actors, and action stars alike, all coming together to make something that combines their talents. I was surprised to see Jeremy Renner dip into a role such as this, and he proved to be rather funny. There wasn’t really anyone that I didn’t like on this cast, besides the stale part given to Rashida Jones. She tried her best, but the role itself didn’t do much for me. The pairing of everyone was pretty hilarious, and it saw some funny moments strung throughout the journey. The action sequences were fairly awesome, as it was a combination of slow-motion and narration that gave way to some funny situations. I laughed a majority at these parts, though I did enjoy dialogue scenes as well. Hannibal Burgess had to have garnered the most laughs from me, granted he played the stereotypical black guy role of the film where most of it is him reacting with a few words (“what the ____”). It’s a fast paced adventure that doesn’t really let up, so with that in mind as well as the solid performances, “Tag” makes for an entertaining night, if anything. What causes it to fall short simply lies in its story, as well as a few technical issues. The plot can be fairly predictable and wrap up conflicts in quick, coincidental situations so as to keep things fast and not lose the audience. There’s also a few plot devices utilize that more so give way to lazy writing rather than making sense. The biggest example is with the character of Rebecca Crosby (Wallis). She was meeting with Jon Hamm’s character at the beginning of the movie, but decides to tag along with the group of friends to write a story for her paper. I didn’t really know why she went with them at first, as she seemed more like a potential investor than newspaper reporter when she was first introduced, but it became pretty apparent the further we went in. Given the crazy nature of this situation (a group of friends playing the same game of tag for over thirty years), we need a character who is on the outside to represent the audience. That’s who Crosby is, and it couldn’t be more obvious. She served no purpose to this story other than to ask questions so the audience “doesn’t get lost.” I feel like there could’ve been a work-around, but who knows. Another problem I saw was how quickly this film wrapped up. The third act had to last about ten minutes, with the conflict being resolved in the blink of an eye. I would’ve expected something bigger, or at least drawn out more, given the heft of this story, but I had to settle for an easy out, which was unfortunate. It was still a nice conclusion that tied everything up, but it was just too quick in my opinion. Finally, there are two technical issues that really annoyed the heck out of me with this. The first was the lighting. I know, most people don’t tend to look into these things, but there were quite a bit of scenes where this film was lit horribly. I don’t know who the gaffer (film lighting technician) was, but they must’ve been out of it. There were scenes, like the wedding ceremony, where the lighting was severely harsh and fake, making it look like characters on-location were in front of a green screen. Normally I don’t notice these things, but this movie was too obvious. Lastly, their transitions from scene to scene was driving me up a wall. Basically, to get from one scene to the next, the filmmakers would utilize an editing technique where something or someone crosses the frame, with what follows behind them being the next scene. So let’s say we finish a scene in a living room. Someone would walk by in front of the camera, causing the scene to switch to outside of a house, as if that someone was walking outside because what follows behind them is the shot of the house. If you don’t understand what I’m saying, watch the movie. You’ll notice it; a bit too much, if you ask me. They had to transition scenes like this at least fifteen times. While it is cool if you do it a few times, it quickly becomes amateur hour. Heck, I’ve done it in my own short films. It’s simple and cool to watch, but can easily become annoying if done too much. Overall, what you see is what you get with “Tag.” It’s a entertaining for the most part, but doesn’t seek to leave you with something walking out of it. The performances are what drive the story, as well as the action sequences that are humorous. If you’re looking for a mindless film to watch, give it a go. FINAL SCORE: 75%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer:
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