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Movie Review: “Tag”

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Tag

Theatrical Release: 6/15/2018

Theatrical Release: 6/15/2018

Synopsis

Every May for the past thirty years, a small group of friends have been playing the same game of tag. During May, the game is on! Players can come out of nowhere and can tag each other when they least expect it. Whoever is “it” at 12:00am on June 1st has to live with the shame of being “it” for the next eleven months. The plans get very elaborate, and the stakes get high, but the game has kept this group of friends together over the past few decades. It is a fun game between friends, but Jerry (Jeremy Renner) has never been tagged since the game began thirty years ago.

Jerry has had a major target on his back for the past thirty years. The rest of the group try to work together to get Jerry year in and year out, but they have never succeeded. However, this year, the stakes will be higher than they have ever been. Jerry is getting married on May 31st and he has made it clear that he plans on retiring from the game at the end of the season. Hoagie (Ed Helms), Chilli (Jake Johnson), Callahan (Jon Hamm), and Sable (Hannibal Buress) must work together and find a way to tag Jerry or they will have live with the shame of having never been able to beat him.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then awarded for each Pro and taken away for each Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points ranging from 0-10 allowing me to convey to you how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Tag (+8pts)

The Reporter (-3pts)

The Friendship (+6pts)

Cheryl (-3pts)

Isla Fischer (+4pts)

The Climax (-5pts)

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Pro: Tag (+8pts)

This movie had such a fun premise. It was really dumb in the best way and it was made even better by how well the cast sold it. The extreme lengths that all of these characters were willing to go to was something that the filmmakers clearly loved playing around with, and it was something that audiences will really enjoy. This mixed with the desperation of trying to tag Jerry, and the fear of being it, made for an on-screen comedic joyride.

The scenes where the group tried to tag Jerry were hilarious. He was clearly so much better than any of the other guys and he was clearly so much better than anyone in the history of the game. It was a really over-the-top idea, but it was really fun nonetheless. This movie was a gimmick, sure, but it will have you laughing from start to finish over the absurdity of the game and the characters playing it.

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Con: The Reporter (-3pts)

I am honestly still a bit confused as to why the filmmakers put this character in the story. This movie was based on a true story, so maybe the reporter was there in the real-life events, but in the movie, the filmmakers did not have to follow the actual events exactly. This reporter was writing an article about Callahan (Jon Hamm), and when she found out about the game, she decided to tag along—see what I did there? The character was completely unnecessary and added absolutely nothing to the story. The only things she did effectively were distracting audiences from the fun presence, and take screentime away from developing more relevant characters. I understand that the true story that this movie was based on became a popular story after a reporter wrote about it, but that did not make this character important to the story in this movie, as I think the movie would have been better without her.

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Pro: The Friendship (+6pts)

One thing I did not expect to see was a strong, well-developed friendship. None of these characters, individually, got much focus, but as a whole, the group got plenty. This was an ensemble cast and there were no weak links in the chain. They played off each other well, and brought a sincere friendship and brotherhood to the screen that I enjoyed watching.

Audiences will have a real sense of how strong their friendship was, and may even l be able to see themselves and their own friendships in these characters, like I did. Their characters will connect with audiences in a way that will have them believing in the juvenile game and the characters juvenile behavior. For these characters, May was the month where they could be a kid again, and as a result, it was a lot of fun to see these characters putting their problems aside in order to play this ridiculous game. It added relatability and heart to this story that I was not expecting, and that most people will be able to relate to.

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Con: Cheryl (-3pts)

Cheryl (Rashida Jones) was a generic, wrench of a character in this movie. The filmmakers' sole purpose for her was to have her distract other characters. In other words, she was the wrench that was thrown into “the plan”, in an attempt to add drama. Cheryl was a girl that both Chilli and Callahan had a sort of romantic relationship with when they were kids, and there had always been a bit of a competitive rivalry between the two guys over this girl.

The plot of this movie was running smoothly, the main characters were all on the same page, and were working well together, but that was not what the filmmakers wanted. That was when Cheryl showed up and put Chilli and Callahan at odds with one another. I understand all of this from the characters’ perspectives and it made sense for Jerry to have invited Cheryl to the wedding—to strategically distract Chilli and Callahan—but I thought Cheryl’s presence in the movie did more harm than good. It was unnecessary, predictable, it messed with the movie's pacing, and distracted the audience from the movie’s fun unique premise.

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Pro: Isla Fischer (+4pts)

In the middle of a pretty stacked, talented, comedic cast, Isla Fischer was arguably the comedic standout of the movie. It was like she was the comedic relief of a comedy movie, filled with comedic characters. She was the wife of Hoagie and she was really into the game that the guys were playing, even though she was not allowed to play because she was not ”one of the guys“. As a result, she was really intense in her support of Hoagie, as she was basically living vicariously through him, and she had me laughing with almost every line that came out of her mouth.

She was profane and she was dying to be able to play the game, so was willing to stop at nothing when she got the chance participate by helping her husband. She would dive at people and get knocked down, but she enjoyed every second of it. What was so great about this character was that she was hilarious, but by being so ridiculously over-the-top, it made the guys and their ridiculous game seem almost normal and believable in comparison. Isla Fischer was hilarious in this role and I thought she was easily one of the better parts of the movie.

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Con: The Climax (-5pts)

I felt that the filmmakers had a tough time writing a climax for a plot that centered around a never ending game. The climax needed to feel satisfying to the audience, while also leaving the story open for the game to continue. Regardless of whether or not there is a sequel, this group of friends would not stop playing tag, so this movie had to be somewhat open-ended. Rather than just have a climactic attempt at tagging Jerry and end the movie at the end of the season, the filmmakers went for a dramatic end that I did not think fit the silly tone of the rest of the movie.

The whole movie had a very silly tone to go along with the absurd premise. This worked really well, but unfortunately, the filmmakers went with a dramatic conclusion. This was not the kind of conclusion that audiences will be looking for. It interrupted the pacing of the movie, got too serious for a comedy such as this one, and it will end up feeling a bit anti-climactic. The filmmakers had a gem with this premise and they set it up nicely, but I unfortunately thought they dropped the ball with wrapping it up.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: B- (82pts)

The best thing going for this movie was its premise. The thought of a group of grown men playing tag is absolutely absurd and this movie really played with that absurdity in an entertaining way. Jeremy Renner’s Character had never been tagged in the thirty years that they had played the game. His character was very exaggerated, but it became a lot of fun to see the rest of the group trying to work together to get him. The friendship between the main characters felt sincere, and it will remind many viewers of their own friendships from high school and college. It was a silly concept, but it worked—for the most part.

The climax took an unexpected dramatic turn that was meant to give the story a solid conclusion. Unfortunately, it felt anti-climactic and out-of-place instead. There were a couple of unnecessary female characters—with Cheryl and the reporter—but Isla Fischer was easily one of the funniest parts of the movie. It was far from perfect, but the fun premise and the strong, juvenile friendships made Tag a fun time at the movies.