Run for your life
There are dumb ideas that become great movies, and there are great ideas that become dumb movies. 'Tag' is one of those two things.
I've heard this movie referred to as high concept. That's a little generous, the concept is pretty simple: a group of friends play tag every May, every year. The last person who is 'it' at the end of May, lives the rest of the year in shame.
Where people are seeing high concept in that premise, aside from the fact that these are grown men playing this game, is in the complexity of the tag itself.
In the first scene, we see Ed Helms' character, who is a successful doctor, getting a job as a janitor at his friend's company in order to disguise himself, get close to his friend, and tag him. Pretty funny.
The movie is full of these inventive and outrageous attempts by these friends to tag each other, and most of the set pieces are super entertaining. Unfortunately, the movie fails to generate any real comedy out of these set pieces and what you are left with are a bunch of really funny jokes with no punchline.
Jeremy Renner plays Jerry. Jerry has a perfect record in tag. In all the years the men have been playing the game, he has never been 'it'. Jerry is a fitness guru and as far as tag is concerned, he is basically James Bond, or the Tom Cruise guy in the Mission Impossible movies. Whenever someone attempts to tag him, time slows to a crawl as he anticipating every move and escapes tagging. Think 'bullet time' but without the bullets.
The rest of the group decide to get together and gang up on Jerry, who is intending to retire at the end of the season with a perfect record.
Meanwhile, Jerry is preparing for his wedding. Hijinks ensue.
One of the biggest problems with this movie is that it's so preoccupied with the game of tag going on, it continually forgets about its own subplots.
Rashida Jones is in the movie (sort of), in a role so superfluous and underwritten, you can't help but think that the money they spent on hiring her could have gone to a writer who could have written the script into something more palatable.
There's a weird scene where Ed Helms' mom (in the movie) hits on Jake Johnson's character and then is never heard from again.
And there's a bit about one of the characters' being in AA, for what we aren't told, and then it isn't mentioned again. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
But I could forgive all that if the movie did what I paid $13.50 for it to do, which is make me laugh. I may have chuckled once or twice, I can't really remember. And there's your takeaway as far as 'Tag' is concerned. If you go to a comedy and can't remember whether you laughed or not, it failed.
Apparently 'Tag' is based on a true story. To what extent, I don't know, although there is a cool montage at the end of the real group of friends popping in and out of each other's lives tagging and ragging.
Maybe in another writer's hands, 'Tag's humour could have matched it's ambition.
Then again, as much as we'd all like to think the hijinks we get into with our friends would make a great movie, often, it's just the beer talking.