Tag - Movie Review by Ben Cahlamer




Director: Jeff Tomsic

Starring:  Jeremy Renner, Ed Helms, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Rashida Jones and Jon Hamm


Anyone who knows me, knows that I really don’t like the kind of surprises where someone jumps out from underneath a desk or from behind a wall. I’m liable to scream like a little girl if that happens. Yet, I find myself smiling, even snickering at the thought of five friends who have managed to play a game of tag for most of their adult lives.

And that’s just for starters. Jeff Tomsic’s feature film debut, “Tag” is ostensibly about finding the inner kid and hanging on to it for as long as you can.

Based on a Wall Street Journal news article, It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It by Russell Adams, Mark Steilen and Rob McKitrick tell the story of five guys who have drifted apart over the years. And even though they have their own lives, they still manage to find time to play the game one month every year.

Ed Helms is “Hoagie,” the ring leader of sorts. He is an absolute hoot to be around, but he’s also very seriously devoted to this game. Jon Hamm plays Bob Callahan, a successful business executive. You’d never know it, but he’s a bigger kid than “Hoagie”. That’s Hamm’s gift: he can tap into his inner child very quickly, but revert to ‘serious’ very quickly. Jake Johnson plays “Chili.” Chili is the biggest child of the entire group, but that’s what makes him so loveable. Hannibal Buress plays Kevin Sable. I related the most to Kevin because “I’m that guy.” Once you get Kevin warmed up though, his head is in the game.

The story is based on a 2013 WSJ article about the real-life group of five guys. I understand that names have been changed, which makes their story all the more interesting, including the role of the reporter. Not to be outclassed, the female characters in this film are an absolute riot. Annabelle Wallis plays the WSJ reporter, Rebecca Crosby. Tomsic, McKitrick and Steilien weaved her character throughout the story. Isla Fisher is an absolute riot as Hoagie’s wife, Anna. Rashida Jones plays Cheryl Deakins a love interest for two of our fellas. Her interactions with both Hamm and Johnson are too good to mention here.

You might be wondering right about now why I haven’t yet mentioned Jeremy Renner who plays Jerry Pierce. See, Jerry is the one member of the group who has never been tagged. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’re already aware of this. It’s the level of physicality that Renner brings to this role, along with the twinkle in his eye that tells us that we’re in for a real treat. I understand that he broke something on both arms during the production and still managed to salvage a shot. Leslie Bibb is his fiancée, Susan. Keep an eye on her character.

Now in theaters, Warner Brothers is on a roll with their comedies this year. Much like “Game Night,” “Tag” is the right type of summer programming that audiences need. It will be interesting to see how well it plays against “Incredibles 2” which also opens this weekend.

3.5 out of 4 stars