Amiable and undemanding, “Tag” manages the seemingly impossible by managing to sustain a whole movie from its amusing but slight premise thanks to winning performances from a game cast and a few spectacular set-pieces.
Based on a true story, “Tag” tells the tale of a group of five childhood friends who have been playing the same game of tag for thirty years. Every May, for thirty-one days, the game is on, regulated by an ever-expanding assortment of rule changes and amendments. When perennially untagged Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner) announces a May wedding, his friends ‘Hoagie’ (Ed Helms), Bob (John Hamm), ‘Chilli’ (Jake Johnson) and Kevin (Hannibal Buress) see their opportunity to finally make him ‘it’.
Although there’s an oddly smug cynicism to the film – occasionally it feels like it’s laughing at, rather than with, its subjects, there’s still a warmth to the movie’s fable of camaraderie, the enduring bonds of friendships that sustain the group through the ups and downs of their adult lives. Helms gives a subdued performance, dialling down his usual frenetic schtick to allow his fellow cast mates time to shine, with John Hamm particularly impressing. Renner is good value as the champion Tag player and while Isla Fisher is superb as Hoagie’s maniacally competitive wife, Lesley Bibb is unfortunately skeletally shrill as Jerry’s bride-to-be.
All-in-all, “Tag” is a lighter, more playful and enjoyable movie than the similar “Game Night” and even if the clunky attempt at last minute pathos clangs rather than rings true, it still sends you away with a little spring in your step and the strong temptation to tag one of your fellow movie-goers as you file out of the cinema screen.