Is there a glitch in the matrix or did I just watch a Hollywood comedy that was actually funny? Like, really funny? I had to scrub back through the last two years for every comedy film that I have reviewed and I don’t believe there has been a better one than Tag in that span.
Thank God, that Will Ferrell and Jack Black both dropped out of this project or else this would have been a disaster. There are some films you just can’t use your ‘critic’ brain for. A movie about a group of 40-year-old men who play a game of children’s tag once a month every year…the film is already telling you that this is going to be silly. The only thing to do from here is judge how well the film adopts its own silliness.
Believe it or not, Tag is actually based on the true story of a group of friends who were featured in the Wall Street Journal because they had played the same game of tag for 23 years. So add in a touch of Hollywood liberties and what you have is a group of men in their mid-40s playing a game of tag every year in the month of May. This time, however, it is different, the group’s friend Jerry (Jeremy Renner) wants to retire after this year because he wants to enjoy life with his soon to be wife. In 30 years of playing this game, Jerry has never been tagged. He has constantly outsmart and outran his friends at every opportunity so this year the guys make it their mission to finally tag Jerry before he leaves the game for good.
Give co-writers Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen credit, they made a movie with legitimate laughs and was genuinely entertaining throughout. The cast of Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, and Jon Hamm have proven they can be funny in other films under the right situation. Here, the film brilliantly uses everyone effectively so you never feel annoyed with any of the characters, even the more over the top ones like Fisher. Two things that stood out to me is that the group actually feels like friends.
Many films will put unlikable characters in a group that always feels out-of-place because no real person would be friends with someone like that. Jake Johnson’s character of ‘Chilli’ is the group stoner but he’s portrayed in a light that is relatable and honest. You can see how his relationship with the group works and he feels like a real person and not an exaggeration of one. The second thing I noticed is that there isn’t that much low brow humor here despite the Rated R rating. Yes, there are some dirty jokes sprinkled in here, but it never reaches that Seth Rogen level of obnoxious you would see in almost every other film.
A premise as silly as this surprisingly has a lot of heart in it. The positive messaging about friendships, growing old, and relationships are so refreshing, you wouldn’t believe it came from the writer of Waiting… The soundtrack is energizing, the laughs work, and the ending will leave such a smile on your face, it will be impossible not to love this film. Tag is the best comedy I’ve reviewed in the two years I’ve run this site.