TAG Review: 2 out of 10 (This movie is NOT IT)
TAG is a comedy directed by Jeff Tomsic (in his directorial debut) and written by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen. I am not sure what Jeff Tomsic was doing before he began directing movies but let us all hope he gets back to that soon. Meanwhile, these writers can go back to working on the next project for Johnny Knoxville or maybe become joke writers for Dane Cook.
The film is based on a true story that was published in The Wall Street Journal about a group of grown men (Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner) who spend one month a year playing the game of tag. The film’s credit sequence actually shows a minute or two of home movies, cellphone cameras, and video clips of these men who ran around tagging each other. That two minutes of actual footage was far better than the previous 100 minutes beforehand. Actually, a documentary on those real life men and their stories would be a far more interesting film. Maybe Jeff Tomsic should have made that movie. Instead, he made a film that might be “tagged” as one of the worst of the year.
It is a shame because the film has a strong cast. Renner plays Jerry—a man who has never been tagged in decades of these men playing the game. It is a pretty unbelievable premise, but it is the thin layer of plot this film games the audience with. Renner plays the straight man here to a film that is otherwise filled with quite a bit of slapstick comedy, lowbrow jokes, and plenty of man-child dialogue. And for actors like Ed Helms and Hannibal Buress, they can deliver up some of the awful dialogue and performance alone to make it close to watchable. They are both funny and talented actors who understand comedy. Unfortunately, they are delivering lines from a script written by people who don’t.
Then there is Jon Hamm. Someone needs to communicate through his agent, close friends, or casting directors that this guy should not be doing comedies. A career intervention is really needed. And then there is Jake Johnson—an actor who has been making funny films *less* funny since 2007. Here he plays a pothead burnout who is still in love with a girl who dumped him…but happens to also like Jon Hamm’s character too. Sound hilarious? It isn’t. And that little plot point is just one of several trying to weave together a film that doesn’t have enough to go on to start with.
TAG is much like the game itself. It just spends 90 minutes of the film following these friends running from place to place to place. After about 20 minutes or so, there is nowhere interesting for the film to go. It has shown us all there is, and even the ending is brutally clear. The humor, or what the writers are passing off as humor, runs from goofy physical slapstick to downright dark. Not to mention that for a film that was based on actual men playing this game in real life, the movie takes the idea so far over the top that it becomes unrealistic, aloof and unfunny as a result. The last sequence is a lame attempt to turn a film that is ridiculous into something human and heartwarming. The tonal shifts in the movie that moves from friendship to revenge back to friendship then to competitive and back again never really works. The result is just a mess of a movie that isn’t funny. It is boring. And that might be the worst thing you can say about a comedy. Well...besides "Starring Jake Johnson" that is. TAG was a downright chore to sit through. Hope you will make this one NOT IT when it comes to your choice at the cinema.