The film TAG has proven that some people will never get old. This film is about a group of friends who have been playing the same game of tag for 30 years, and do not plan on stopping any time soon.
We begin with our main protagonist known as “Hoagie” (Ed Helms—The Hangover Trilogy, The Lorax) reciting a well-rehearsed speech in hopes of being employed as a janitor in an office building. It turns out this job is only a cover for him so he can tag his friend, Callahan (Jon Hamm—Baby Driver, Black Mirror) in mid-interview. What happens next will set you up for what is to be expected for the next hour and forty-five minutes. It is here that you decide whether or not this film is for you.
The rules are simple: Every year in May these five best friends would participate in their annual game of Tag. How they went about it was up to them. The object of the game was to not be the “IT” guy by midnight of 31st. The “IT” guy would spend the year as the “loser” until the next year when the game would start. Then they would restart the tradition.
But this year, when Hoagie claims that Jerry (Jeremy Renner—The Avengers) is retiring from the game and keeping his forever title as the only player to have never been tagged, it is up to Hoagie, “Chilli”/Randy (Jake Johnson—New Girl, Jurassic World), Callahan, and Sable (Hannibal Buress—Neighbours, Daddy's Home) to come together and make this year the “tag” of a century.
With Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers, Now You See Me) playing Hoagie’s wife Anna, and Annabelle Wallis (Annabelle, Peaky Blinders) cast as the journalist who gets reeled in by the story of a lifetime, we get a number of hilarious scenes and improvised lines thrown about.
Before we continue, I admit that I was not certain of what my response to this film was going to be. I often express my disdain for comedies as an art form going stale. This can be put down to the overuse of a certain joke, or the use of slapstick comedy being turned into overkill for the sake of a few laughs. To put it simply, if this film was needed to be good in my eyes, it had a lot to step up to.
When actors are comfortable enough that they can bend the script ever so slightly, it always gives the scenes a lot more “natural” feel. This is something that I find pretty attractive in films, television, and plays. We receive some of the most iconic scenes remembered in the history of film when done right. The late Robin Williams was notorious for these moments of improvised scenes during his performances. The line-up in The Usual Suspects has also been noted for the actors not taking their lines seriously and then going off script. Even in X-Men: First Class, the one scene where Hugh Jackman cameos as Wolverine for a scene no larger than ten seconds with one unscripted line, creates a something which audiences remember, take home, & share with their friends and colleagues.
What I found most enjoyable about this film is knowing that this film was not created out of thin air. TAG is based on a group of friends in real life who have been playing the game together since 1990. They sold their story to the Wall Street Journal in 2013 and this inspired the film that we now have today. The group, known as the Tag Brothers, consists of ten people who express that during their school days they were the group of those who did not completely fit into any of the other groups that you would typically find in school territory. With an eight-year gap between graduation and the reunion that brought them together to restart the game; they say that the game brings them closer together and forms a strong bond between them all.
Minor details such as the group size and love interests that cause rivalry within the group have been altered for the benefit of the film. However, this has not appeared to cause a disruption in responses to those who have ventured out to go see TAG. It is with great bemusement to see that some of the strategies used in the attempt for the friends to tag each other have only been slightly exaggerated in order to provoke responses. The group explained to their interviewers that there are no distances too far, and almost no moment inappropriate. Some scenes in the movie are even based on the real events that occurred (members being tagged at a funeral, for example). Like in the film, the Tag Brothers have a set of rules that they abide by—drafted in January 1990 and signed by all of its members—but does not stop them from using outer sources in order to gain easier access to their targets.
With all these little details added in, I feel that what has been made is a film that is heartwarming, enjoyable, and hilarious to watch. There is only one part of the story in the film, involving Jerry and his new wife, which I do find in very bad taste, which I think is down to a lapse in judgment, during the story writing, for what is defined as “humour”. But would I never see this film again because of this one thing? No, I would not.