by George Wolf
The premise is ridiculous. It’s also attention-grabbing, and mostly true.
A film could have worse starting blocks, and Tag makes sure they’re put to good use. TV vet Jeff Tomsic flashes sharp directing instincts in his feature film debut, blending a snappy pace with sharp characterizations, some effective physical comedy and just enough heart for a solidly funny good time.
Five years ago, a front page Wall Street Journal article hipped the world to a group of 10 friends who’d been playing the same game of tag for over twenty years. Adhering to their original rules, and then amendments to those rules, they’d stalk each other every February.
For the film version, the month has changed to May and the group scaled down to the four (Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, Hannibal Burris and Jake Johnston) that think they finally have a plan to tag the fifth (Jeremy Renner), who has never, ever been “it.”
The WSJ reporter who tags along (Annabelle Wallis) becomes an effective device to organically handle the questions we’re wondering about, and the entire ensemble quickly establishes a chemistry that feels true.
Hamm, Johnston and Renner carve out layered characters with ease, while Helms and Burris are basically leaning on their usual, but reliably funny, personas. Nice assists come from Isla Fisher as Helms’s highly competitive wife, and some assorted memorable weirdos (Steve Berg, Nora Dunn, Thomas MIddleditch).
The script, from Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilin, stays funny and hip throughout, pausing just long enough to reflect on friendship and adulthood without getting sappy. It’s more than enough fuel for this likable ensemble to play with and come out a winner.