A wonderful cast has genuine and heartfelt chemistry, which makes up for the lacklustre direction and narrative failings.
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Out this week is Tag. A film inspired by a game of tag that has lasted 23 years between a bunch of friends who never want to grow old.
Starring Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm, and Jeremy Renner the cadre of men-children is a star-studded affair. Each of them brings their own unique personality to Tagas they do battle across cities and states playing this age-old game.
The narrative is surprisingly the weakest part of the film in my opinion. That may be due to the changes made to the story. The story inspiring the film is about a group of friends that use this game to tie themselves together across cities and time. It’s charming and quite heartwarming showing the strength of friendship. The film, however, goes for a more dramatic theme.
Hogan (Helms) bringing Bob (Hamm) Chilli (Johnson) and Sable (Buress) together to let them know undefeated tag champion Jerry (Renner) is retiring after this year brings an urgency to their game that I felt ultimately was not needed. It’s at the core of the film but it doesn’t work with the rest of the film as it adds a cynical theme to some of the scenes that are not necessary because this should be a film about friendship and its power.
Now the film does succeed ultimately with the theme of friendship and the impact of this game on its players lives but this is despite choices by the director in the narrative. Where does this success come from you may ask? Why the cast of course. Their chemistry is superb, this group of friends is exactly that a group of friends. They bounce off each other so well and have such a clear understanding of each other.
The highlight for me surprisingly was Renner, he’s playing a superhuman tag player that adores these brief moments in time with his friends. He has Sherlock style deduction scenes where he breaks down how he’ll not get tagged by his buddies and they’re brilliant. Not only that he seems to have brought over his skills as Hawkeye from the MCU as he dishes out attacks in a particular scene with donuts (it’s brilliant).
The rest of the cast is good but I will say they do play it somewhat safe. Ed Helms in his portrayal as Hogan is playing the character we met in The Hangover all those years ago. Jake Johnson is still Nick from New Girl and Hannibal Buress is that same chilled guy he’s been in every comedy you’ve ever seen him in. Jon Hamm is given not much to work with to stand out which is a shame. Thankfully though all these weaknesses are countered by their impeccable camaraderie. They are better as a whole rather than as individuals.
On top of that is an inspired performance from Isla Fisher who plays Anna, Hogans scarily intense wife. She is so over the top and off-kilter that she injects a further anarchy to Tag that I really loved. If there were any other issues it would be with the remaining cast, Annabelle Wallis who plays the journalist that follows the lads on their supposed final adventure.
She is the eyes to this world for the audience and so when exposition needs to be given Wallis’ character Rebecca comes up to the lads to ask the questions. Other than that she does nothing to add to the film. She’s not funny, doesn’t have any noteworthy scenes with the rest of the cast and at times you forget about her. There are other ways to get across information in a film and this was one of the severe issues with Tag.
In the end, Tag is a great film with a wonderful cast with genuine and heartfelt chemistry. Go see it with your best friends and afterward have a night out and reminisce about the good times.