Well, this is a ridiculous movie. It is about a group of adult men playing tag. That’s the movie. Really.
I expect most readers to think “wait, that’s absurd, that won’t be a good movie” and they would be…somewhat wrong. Technically, the movie is about tag but it’s so hilariously over-the-top most of the time that I couldn’t help but be entertained. I think this is a dumb movie made by smart people, and it shows; there are many one-liners that made me laugh, and the lengths to which characters go to tag each other are amazingly outlandish. Yet….for this reviewer, it works. Sometimes, a movie can be totally and utterly amalgamated by the acme of mad zeal, and it’s really enjoyable. I’m somewhat reminded here of one of my favorite action movies, being 2016’s Hardcore Henry. That’s a very stupid movie, but it’s made so well and filled with such ingenuity that it hardly matters. I’m focusing on this point so heavily because people ought to remember that a movie can be dumb and still be entertaining for its other aspects; a movie such as this is likely nigh impossible to make appear majestically intelligent anyway.
The actors are pretty good, in that they sell the characters’ enthusiasm for the game effectively. On that note, I have long believed that Ed Helms is one of the worst actors in existence. Everything I have seen with him is brought down by him. His film Cedar Rapids is one of the worst and most aggressively bland films I have ever seen. However, almost to my chagrin, he is competent here. His character is a crazy idiot and Ed Helms did that just fine. Most of the actors are good for who they are supposed to be, but their characters are purposefully very shallow. There’s a bare minimum of development and information for almost everyone, and that’s a small detriment. At the same time, Jeremy Renner, who, outside of last year’s phenomenal Wind River, is generally a bland actor, was oddly compelling here. He plays a man who ‘hasn’t been tagged in 30 years’ and he effectively shows us why this is true, both through his performance and his commitment to not being tagged.
The stunt choreography and effects are excellent. It seems almost unfair to state that Tag has genuinely great and fun action scenes. It’s better in this regard than most summer action flicks I’ve seen in some time. It’s a silly movie about childish adults, and it arguably doesn’t deserve this sort of attention, but this high quality is very welcome. It adds tremendously to the manic mood and style persistent throughout the film.
Also, the camerawork is pretty good here. The stunts and general positions of the characters are constantly in focus, and that is a pleasant surprise. Too often in comedy films, especially ones with some action, is there no interest in proper conveyance of the scenery and situation. Some of the visual gags are done purely through camera movements and reveals of traps and things. The cinematography is certainly not spectacular, but as with the stunt work, it did not need to be this effective. I believe in some ways the crew went above and beyond any expectations from a technical perspective, and that is noticeable.
On the other hand, the music is not good. I know this is subjective, as it is used when it should be, but the insertion of generic and overly loud rap songs during various scenes seemed poorly chosen. If there were insane opera music, or something out of a raucous carnival, or perhaps even a simple upbeat jingle, it would have fit the tone of the film more. I do not thin ‘grown men playing tag’ fits the tune or the themes of that music, and it was…jarring, at least. This might seem harsh, but it did not work for me in that regard.
Perhaps I am more entertained by cynical lunacy than most viewers, and I realize this film lacks much praise, but I happened to see this and I certainly do not regret it. I absolutely can’t deny that the story is pretty dumb, and the writing doesn’t always land, although plenty of jokes were awesome. Honestly, watching these people run around fervently trying to tag each other is more than satisfying. Basically, it isn’t a great movie, but this is probably just about as good as a movie like Tag could have been. For what it is, this is nice.
I’m putting this in the Wondrous category. It’s not high there, and it’s always nice when a comedy film really works for me. Rather, I do not generally enjoy many comedy movies, as I find them often overrun with toilet humor, terrible puns, and a general disinterest in wit. This one’s a bit different, and I appreciated that well enough. Go and see it if you want to laugh at weird shenanigans and strangely fantastic stunts. You will probably have a good time.