By Dave Kibbler
A girlfriend from years ago told me, “Girls grow into women. Boys get older, but they still stay boys.” She could very easily be discussing the premise of “Tag,” a movie based on a true story of friends from Spokane, Washington who have maintained a lifetime game of tag over the decades.
Each May, the group gathers to play out the game, flying across the country to reunite for a serious round of the childhood pastime. Hoagie, portrayed by Ed Helms, leads this year’s gathering with one goal in mind: to finally tag their friend Jerry (Jeremy Renner), who has never been tagged once by any of them over the decades.
Callahan, Randy and Sable (Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson and Hannibal Burress) round out the group dedicated to finally making making Jerry “It” during his wedding weekend. Renner portrays Jerry as the psychopathic half Hawkeye/half Quicksilver-like character that he is, in spite of the fact that Renner broke both his arms the third day of shooting and engaged in some clever (and a few CGI-assisted) maneuvers to hide his injuries.
While the congenial lot make for a number of laugh-out-loud moments, the characters never feel truly developed. Then again, if they truly are just boys in men’s clothing, maybe there isn’t all that much to flesh out.
Isla Fisher steals the show for me as Hoagie’s devoted wife Anna. She’s brass, crass, and one very funny lass. Annabelle Wallis portrays the Wall Street Journal reporter that wrote the article that spreads the boys’ fame all over the country, but her performance felt almost wooden. The rest of the cast is fairly forgettable.
There are moments in this film that push beyond my boundaries. Extending the tag game to an AA meeting? Really? This leads to a pivotal plot point that, to me, was a reprehensible ruse. That said, “Tag” is still an enjoyable comedy and a delightful way to pass a couple hours of the summertime.
Jeff Tomsic directs a screen play written by Rob McKittrick and Mark Stellen. Will Ferrell of Saturday Night Live fame produced this romp, and you can see bits and pieces of his personality in the finished product.
The characters could have been more fleshed out in the film, but “Tag” is still a laughfest worth going to the cinema to see, especially if you can find a matinee. Don’t take the kids, however. If you like broad laughs and lots of slapstick fun, “Tag” is definitely worth “It”.
“Tag” opens at AMC Eastgate Showplace 6, AMC Showplace Edwardsville 12, Granite City Cine and Jerseyville Stadium.