Here’s a piece of advice for anyone looking to edit trailers as a profession: Don’t begin a trailer (that everyone will have seen in theaters and online for several months) with the climactic moment in the movie. That egregious mistake was made with “Tag”. And it’s far from the only one.
“Tag” stars Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress and Jeremy Renner. They play five friends who get together every May to play an extreme, relentless game of Tag. They’ve been doing it since they were 9. 30 years later, Renner’s character, Jerry is still the reigning champ. He’s never… EVER… been tagged.
One of the key marketing tactics being used by Warner Bros. is that “Tag” (believe it or not) is based on a true story. In 2013, the Wall Street Journal featured a piece on the real-life players. “CBS Sunday Morning” also did a profile story. In the right hands, this flimsy, but admittedly unique concept could’ve resulted in a light, amusing film. But no one involved in “Tag” had the right hands. Instead, what director Jeff Tomsic presents us with is mindless, over-the-top, goofy, often cruel, mean-spirited and – bottomline – not funny.
Over the course of 100 minutes, “Tag” attempts to get laughs from a forced use of adult language and references. When that doesn’t work it moves on to jokes about alcoholism, cancer, diabetes, and even miscarriage. Tomsic (a TV veteran whose prior directorial resume includes a T.J. Miller HBO comedy special) and screenwriters Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen have slapped together a sloppy movie, that oozes desperation in every, cringeworthy scene. And, as is the formula for this genre, things take a 180-degree turn late in the last act, from stupid to sappy, in an attempt for a feel-good finale. Nothing works.
A trio of female characters stay mostly on the sidelines. One is a wife (Isla Fisher), another is an ex-girlfriend of two of the players (Rashida Jones) and the third is the WSJ reporter (Annabelle Wallis) who drops everything to follow these men and get “the story”.
Hopefully this movie will have so little impact at the box office and the culture that it will quickly be forgotten and won’t forever tarnish the fun childhood game we all remember playing.
In short, this is all you need to know: “Tag” – you’re NOT it!
On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Tag” gets an F.
Running Time: 100 min.