Hollywood has successfully made films based on childhood toys like Lego, so why not a simple game like tag? The premise, which doesn’t sound so funny at first, is much more intriguing because it’s based on a true story covered in The Wall Street Journal.
It revolves around a group of friends, played by Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress and Jeremy Renner, who have played the same game of tag over one month of every year since they were kids.
The cast alone should have been enough to carry this film, but unfortunately it’s let down by an inexperienced director and very thin script.
No actor is played to their strengths. Helms is enthusiastic but not over-the-top, Hamm is arrogant but not to the point where he appears creepy and therefore funny, and Buress probably suffers the most; often at times the camera cuts to him during a group conversation for an obscure remark, which are most likely ad-libbed, but the setup is so weak that it continually falls flat or just feels out of place.
As a director, it’s fairly obvious this is Jeff Tomsic’s debut. As though he’s fresh from film school, he plays with many shooting styles and never carries them through the entirety of the film. We get a narration from Helms at the start, followed by GoPro-style running shots, which are completely disregarded for the same slow-motion, internal monologue scenes ripped from Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes.
Tag is also tonally confused, with many surprisingly dark moments littered throughout. Unfortunately though, as though the studio jumped in and tried to keep things positive for the audience, they’re mostly brushed over and come across rather insensitive.
Furthermore, the use of sub-characters to advance the plot isn’t very subtle at all, for example, Annabelle Wallis’ Wall Street journalist is clearly only there to explain the rules. The only funny cameo comes from Silicon Valley’s Thomas Middleditch, who plays against type as a gym manager.
This is the sort of film that’s perfect for a Sunday hangover because it doesn’t require much thinking, but just don’t let the cast fool you into thinking it’ll be funnier than it is.