Review by Gordon Justesen
Helms, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Rashida Jones, Leslie
Bibb, Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner
Director: Jeff Tomsic
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Studio: Warner Bros.
Features: See Review
Length: 100 Minutes
Release Date: August 28, 2018
The most amazing thing regarding Tag, which was also heavily covered in the movie’s marketing, is that its wacky premise stems from a true story. For thirty plus years, a group of friends managed to remain in close contact via an ongoing game of tag that began during their childhood and somehow never stopped. And based on the Looney Tunes level of insane physicality on display in the movie, I’m gonna go out a limb and assume more than a bit of the true story was exaggerated.
Even with that neat angle behind its premise, Tag simply ends up being yet another addition to the ever growing laundry list of subpar comedies to surface in the last several years. Lately, I’ve found myself questioning if comedies in general had lost their effect on me and if I was in fact just getting too old to appreciate what I would have easily found riveting in my youth. But then I remembered that I did laugh out loudly and frequently during one particular movie this year; the similarly themed Game Night...so the answer to that question would at best be “not entirely”.
The movie does start out promisingly enough, as the most enthusiast tag teammate, Hogan (Ed Helms), goes to absurd lengths to continue the game. He does so by tracking down and tagging fellow friend Bob (Jon Hamm) by getting a job as a janitor at the fortune 500 company Bob runs, just as he’s being interviewed for a Wall Street Journal puff piece. Journalist Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) is at first perplexed by the sudden burst of shenanigans, but decides to tag along (yes, pun intended) with the two as they plot to gather the rest of their gang and once and for all successfully tag the one member of their group who is the reigning champ.
That would be Jerry (Jeremy Renner), a successful fitness instructor who is about to get married. The wedding provides the perfect opportunity to lay down what is proven to be the most impossible form of physical contact on another human being. That would be a tag, you see.
First off, Hogan rounds up the rest of the ragtag (once again, you read correctly) bunch at various parts of the country. There’s token stoner Chilli (Jake Johnson), a recent divorcee, as well as Sable (Hannibal Buress), who for reasons is operating on a neurotic level just a few notches below Larry David. Rounding out the group is Hogan’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher), who turns out to be the most competitive of them all.
And rest assured, there are quite a few laughs to be had once the friends are all reunited and attempt to lay the final blow to Jerry. The movie even comes up with a nice slow motion technique where in which we hear the inner thoughts of the person attempting to lay the next tag, resulting in some genuine hilarity. The movie is not without laughs...it’s just not the consistently sidesplitting type that better serves a wacky comedy like this and instead serving up only sporadic chuckles.
There are two other areas that rater hurt the movie. The first being an unwanted subplot involving that of Cheryl (Rashida Jones), whose presence strikes up jealously between Bob and Chilli. It’s merely a means of distraction orchestrated by Jerry, but ends up really going nowhere.
The other faulty element is a heart-tugging conclusion that feels tacked on in a most awkward way. Even if this was taken directly from the actual story, it doesn’t seem very fitting to a movie that had previously been reveling in all its Coyote/Road Runner hijinks. Even a rendition of 90s classic “Mmm Mmm Mmm” by the cast during the end credits feels ultimately without purpose.
One last thing I have to mention; the cast seems to be that of a can’t lose type. But when you take into account that, for starters, Jon Hamm and Jeremy Renner are both 7 years older than Jake Johnson and 12 years older than Hannibal Buress...well, then you realize that a LOT had been exaggerated from its real life source.
Warner delivers one impressively good looking Blu-ray with this release. There’s not exactly a particular standout quality with how the movie was shot, but nonetheless the image quality is that of a consistently sharp, fully detailed picture with dynamic colors to boot. It’s a movie that doesn’t have any reason to look as great as it does on Blu-ray, but those are the very results that have been presented!
What really blew me away with this disc was the awesome level of audio supplied. There are many physical prat falls that the DTS HD mix captures amazingly well, in addition to the aural techniques associated with the aforementioned slow motion moments during the tag scenes, which give the surround sound a tremendous working. Music playback and dialogue delivery are also at the highest form possible.
On this Warner Blu-ray disc, we get a five minute featurette titled “Meet the Real Tag Brothers”, where we get a glimpse of the real group of friends that inspired the movie. Also included are about six minutes worth of Deleted Scenes and a Gag Reel that lasts a good eight minutes.
Nobody appreciates a silly slapstick comedy more than me, and yet Tag somehow misses the mark in terms of comedic consistency and relying too heavily on familiar comic cliches that have grown tiresome at this point, as I may have possibly put more thought into the awful tag puns in this review.