Illogical and filled with incredibly lazy writing, Jeff Tomsic’s loosely-based-on-a-true-story TAG (2018) almost begs the audience to suspend every last ounce of disbelief while being beyond the epitome of absurd. Secondary characters are mostly underused, a couple of time-consuming subplots go nowhere, and a lot of the humor relies on shock value to the point where you might start to question the sanity of everyone involved in the making of the movie.
And, yet, it almost completely works. Almost.
As you may know from the ubiquitous trailer, TAG tells the story of a group of middle-aged men who celebrate their friendship every year by playing the children’s game throughout May. When ‘never been tagged’ Jerry (Jeremy Renner) sets a wedding date for that month – without informing his friends – the crew (Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress) recognizes a golden opportunity to finally win bragging rights by defeating their normally elusive buddy.
To be honest, the criticism TAG has received is mostly valid. The five main male actors are all playing to type, and the supporting actresses (Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis, Rashida Jones, and Nora Dunn) are virtually pointless outside of exposition. Jarringly awkward tonal shifts occur throughout, and there are issues in terms of believability – not just in the friendships themselves, but in that these actors can play childhood pals who were all 9-years-old at the same time.
In what are some highly-stylized action scenes, TAG is at its best when the characters are actively playing the game… until real world logic attempts to enter your thoughts. Forget about the borderline moment of attempted murder that occurs, however, because the friends commit acts ranging from assault to breaking & entering to destruction of private property (including desecration of a church) — and all without fear of repercussion. Outside of a few lines about prison, law enforcement doesn’t seem to exist past mall security; and the bad behavior (of clearly psychotic people) goes completely unchecked.
[There is also a poorly-handled plot line that brings the story to a screeching halt due to it being both dark and decidedly unfunny. Sadly, it’s nothing more than a lame and lazy plot device that might hit a little too close to home for some viewers.]
On the other hand, TAG has plenty of laughs (most, of which, are intentional), and the fun does suck the viewer in – and will probably leave you wishing you had a group of close friends with whom you could enjoy laughs and moments of violence. GAME NIGHT is a better version of this movie, but TAG is, somehow, more entertaining.
Three out of Five Beers… is the official rating.
[My love for Hannibal – and that damn soundtrack – makes it an unofficial Three and a Half.]