"Tag" Review

Title: Tag
Director: Jeff Tomsic
Starring: Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner
Studio: New Line Cinema
Genre(s): Comedy
Rated: R (For language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity)

When they say Hollywood is out of fresh ideas, a movie like "Tag" comes along to prove that the problem isn't in the lack of fresh ideas; the problem is with the lack of 'good' ideas.  Several years ago the New York Times wrote an article about several adult friends who spent more than thirty years playing a game of tag that would resume one month each year.  Aside from it being a slow enough day in the news for the story to qualify as front page news (and proving that good, exclusive content for newspapers was getting harder to find), the story almost immediately started a bidding war between Hollywood studios, who frantically wanted to turn the article in a hit comedy.  I mean, if that whole scenario doesn't highlight how bored this industry is with what they've got in production, then I don't know what does.  I mean, what's next?  A big budget trilogy based on the video game "Tetris?"  Never mind.

While I may have just laid out one of the stupidest premises you'll likely ever hear for an R-rated comedy (a PG-rated family film seems more in tune with the whole concept), you are likely at the very least curious as to why this is a thing in the first place.  In this case I will give everyone credit for doing something that is at the very least curious enough on the surface to warrant a deeper look.  After all, this isn't just some minor thing that happen; all of these men live in different states, have different level jobs, and some are even married/divorced/getting married.  It is no easy feat to put your life on hold in order to travel the country to play a game that is extensively made for children.  That, I suppose, is the whole point, as one of the men likes to say "we don't stop playing because we get old, we get old because we stop playing."  They say George Washington said this, but even that is in dispute.  Regardless, this is the deep philosophy around the situation of five grown men playing tag.

You know...I've written many articles and reviews where I debate the increasing culture we live in where people are so resistant to grow up that we have grown men obsessing over comic movies that are made for children, but this is a Peter Pan Syndrome level of complexity that is far beyond what my liberal college degree in journalism can tackle (though I would be very interested in reading a piece on the matter from someone with a P.h.D.).  The conflict in all this (such as it is) revolves around the fact that one of the boys - Jerry (Jeremy Renner) - has never been tagged.  Really, that's the whole point: to tag the one guy in the group who has never been 'it' before.  What's more, the guy is so amazing at playing the game, that he turns into some sort of super-powered human who can move at lightening speed, out-think Sherlock Holmes, and is good looking enough to be considered a model.

If this is indeed based on a true story - and Jerry does exist in some form or another in the real world - then he is an abject failure for using his skills to be the undisputed champion of 'tag.'  He should at least consider becoming a spy agent or...at the very least a good street fighter.  The film does suggest he's a famous fitness instructor so, I guess that's something.  At the end of the day though the movie is just as stupid as the concept.  Yes, there's a certain fascination with watching people obsess over a game they should have out-grown a long, long, LONG time ago, but...that's about it!  The game itself isn't exactly exciting or riveting.  I can't say I was invested in whether or not Jerry ever becomes 'it.'  Even if the goal is accomplished, does anyone's lives even change really?  Now, at this point you can say that I'm over thinking this a great deal.

Surely a movie called "Tag" isn't meant to discussed or even thought about much.  It's just meant to be funny.  For those who point this out, I agree.  However, there are now two very big problems with this.  First of all, I don't believe in watching movies that inspire so little thought that you aren't thinking about it beyond the parking lot. After all, if you spend two hours of your life on a movie shouldn't it enrich it for more than five minutes?  Secondly, "Tag" is rarely funny and is often painfully stupid.  With a scrip that seems geared for children but with enough profanity that you'd think Deadpool was coaching all the key players.  Besides, as someone who is soon to be in the same age bracket as these men, I have seen enough pitfalls, sex jokes, and food-in-the-face jokes that going through all these motions in such a short amount of time is making me start to feel my age.  In short, "Tag" is almost never fun to watch and is painfully boring.  Considering the game it's based off is supposed to be the exact opposite of this, I think it's fair to say everyone involved in this missed the point entirely.

Parents, considering the movie is based around the children's game tag, you'd think this would be a more family friendly film.  Not the case.  There is lots of foul language, sex jokes, nudity, and overall cruelty on display.  NOT for  kids!  Recommended for ages 17 and up.