Based on a ridiculous true story, Tag is a 2018 film sporting an all-star cast about a group of friends who maintain a 30 year-long game of Tag during the month of May, and the insane methods they use to make each other ‘It’. A group of 5 friends believe very dearly in the idea that you don’t stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing. In an effort to maintain their youth and their connections to each other, these friends go to ridiculous lengths to tag each other for one month every year. The film stars Jeremy Renner, John Hamm, Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Burress, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, and Thomas Middleditch among others. Tag is absolutely based on a true story, more specifically, off of an article in The Wall Street Journal, written by a man who followed some of the men on one particular journey to tag a friend.
For some reason, I wasn’t particularly excited to see this film. I knew about it when it came out a couple years ago, and it had been on my radar then, but the time passed and it never got watched. It’s not that well reviewed, so it sort of slipped out of my mind without my noticing. I gave it a shot yesterday and was more pleasantly surprised than I’ve been about a comedy film in a long time.
Tag is frickin awesome. I loved this movie, a lot, for a couple of main reasons. Reason number one has to be the premise. It doesn’t immediately strike you as particularly cinematic. Tag isn’t the most exciting game in the world, all things considered, and, while watching John Hamm chase Ed Helms up and down a street would’ve been undeniably entertaining, it only would’ve lasted ten minutes before I would’ve been ready to change the metaphorical channel. How naïve of me. This movie takes Tag to a stratosphere never before seen by man, and it’s unbelievable. I mean it, the lengths that these guys go to keep the game alive are hilarious, and it’s made so exponentially funnier when you realize this movie is a true story. I’ve only had time to do some rudimentary research, you’d better believe I’m gonna do more, but from what I’ve seen so far, an alarming amount of this movie is based in reality, and I love it.
But the situation couldn’t claim to be the only source of comedy. The ensemble cast of this movie is spectacular, performing the hell out of every inch of it. It’s because of some of their performances, via a pretty incredible medley of chemistry and comedic flair, that the history between the characters in this film feels so authentic. Seriously, there’s a sense of familiarity that every character interaction gives off that I just absolutely love about this movie. It’s because of that familiarity that some of the more thematic substance of the film lands, if not with unprecedented poignance then at the very least with something more than an average slapstick comedy. To be fair, they keep the real-ness to a low insofar as they can until pretty late in the film, and there are some conflicts in that area that don’t necessarily get resolved, although that might be more intentional than not.
From a technical standpoint, this is a hard one to judge. Strong characters, in the context of the story of this film, require tactful writing just as much as an expert performance, so I’d have to rate that aspect of it pretty high. Visually it’s nothing special, but it’s easy on the eyes, which is realistically all that’s visually asked of a movie like this one. Aside from that, it’s not a technically conceived film. I’m hesitant to call it slapstick. I know I already have, but a lot of the comedy comes from the characters and their situation, right alongside the physical Tag-centric stuff. Either way, it’s not higher cinema, nor is it trying to be.
I’m still hung up on the truth behind the story. Again, there’s more research to be done on my end, but whatever I have read would suggest to me that there are things that happened in real life that might just be crazier than what we see in the movie. Something about the fact that this is based in reality, more than most biopics are, adds to the spirit of this film. I just loved it. Sometimes it’s just awesome, and it’s actually not much more complicated than that. Absolutely hilarious, compelling when it needed to be, and oozing with a familiarity and authenticity in their characters and their relationships that I loved. This is a hugely underrated film that I guarantee will give you a hell of a good time.
– Aman Datta
Aman’s Score – 80/100 Aryamaan’s Score –