‘Tag’ review: Stunted comedy

Oggs Cruz
‘Tag’ review: Stunted comedy
The film is oftentimes clever with its exaggerations

It really isn’t a recent phenomenon considering that comedians, the most prominent of whom is Adam Sandler, have carved entire careers out of them. But it seems that lately, Hollywood has renewed an interest for comedies depicting functioning adults in some form of perpetual immaturity.

Based on a true story

Films like Todd Phillips’ The Hangover, its two sequels, Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s 21 and 22 Jump Street, and many of Judd Apatow’s romances have their humor centered on its main characters juggling their adult lives with their awkward preoccupation with various childish things. In fact, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein’s Game Night, released just this year, has its entire narrative revolve around relatively successful people go through hilariously extreme lengths to solve a supposedly fake mystery.

All those films however are products of fiction, loud fabrications resulting from the filmmakers’ imaginings of the extents bored privileged Americans would take to grab onto the only thing their dollars can’t buy: youth.

Jeff Tomsic’s Tag, while of the same vein as Game Night and its predecessors, is different. It is based on a true story, on a 2013 Wall Street Journal article about a group of long-time friends who have never stopped playing tag.

Of course, the film doesn’t really stick to the exact details of the article. It borrows the concept and exaggerates from there, reinventing the article to tell the story of dentist Hoagie (Ed Helms), CEO Callahan (Jon Hamm), pothead Chilli (Jake Johnson) and Reggie (Lil Rel Howery) who travel back to their hometown to finally tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner), who has never been tagged since their little game started when they were still little boys. The events unfold in the few busy days before his wedding.

Jeremy Renner

Clever exaggerations

The film is oftentimes clever with its exaggerations.

Tomsic turns Jerry into a superhero-like creature of inflated precision. When Hoagie and his gang are about to tag him, the film shifts for a few minutes from being the inanity-ridden gag show that it really is to a stylized and choreographed action sequence that has the characters’ inner thoughts and strategies echoing to showcase the unlikely science behind a game with the simplest of rules. The goal is, of course, to comically enunciate the unlikely meshing of adult complications with adolescent activities.

Unfortunately, Tag only goes so far.

Its primary interest is limited to mining the curious case of adults who can’t let go of a game for a bucketful of laughs and a tinge of sentimentality near the end. There’s an obvious bid for female representation in what seems to be a boy’s club, with Hoagie’s wife (Isla Fisher) intensely directing some of the plans. However, the film doesn’t really push the envelope, which makes it somewhat as stunted as its characters’ motivations.

CONGRATULATIONS. Jon Hamm tin a scene from 'Tag'.

Proximity to reality

Tomsic wastes away his film’s proximity to reality.

Sure, he comes up with an entertaining diversion to the world’s sordid complications, which is all good and dandy.

However, he fails to separate his film from the rest of its ilk. At best, it is a witty variation of the boisterously indulgent examinations of American privilege. It offers nothing novel of note.  – Rappler.com


Francis Joseph Cruz litigates for a living and writes about cinema for fun. The first Filipino movie he saw in the theaters was Carlo J. Caparas’ Tirad Pass.

Since then, he’s been on a mission to find better memories with Philippine cinema

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