Tag (2018)

JEFF TOMSIC

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB.5.  USA, 2018.  , .  Story by , Screenplay by , Mark Steilen, based on the Wall Street Journal article “It Takes Planning, Caution To Avoid Being It” by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by , Mark Steilen.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by

A group of five friends have been playing a game of tag since they were pre-teens, and now in adulthood spend every month of May travelling as far as is necessary to disgrace each other with the infamous status of being “It”.  While being interviewed by the Wall Street Journal about his struggling company, contestant  is interrupted by and the journalist  () changes the focus of her story because of what she discovers:  Helms says that the star member of their troupe (), who has the distinction of having never been “tagged” in all the years that they have been playing, wants to retire from the game and they must find him and finally beat him at this game in order to keep their friendship alive.  Renner’s upcoming wedding (to a hilarious ) provides the perfect opportunity to finally getting him, so the two guys, their fascinated Wallis and Helms’ hyper-competitive wife (a spirited ) pick up the other members of the troupe (, ) and head to the nuptials.  Renner turns out to have superhero abilities for predicting his friends’ attacks on him, resulting in quite a lot of property damage and more than a few injuries in pursuit of accomplishing this goal; as the competition continues and the stakes are increased, it becomes apparent that this game has actually been how these friends have stayed close and that Renner, in never having been tagged, has missed out on the camaraderie that the others share.  The problem is that whatever emotional sensitivity this movie decides to have in revealing this theme comes far too late, following a series of ridiculous stunts that, in real life, would get people killed, which then gets even more ludicrous with a very dark reveal about one of the characters in the eleventh hour.  It’s a conflicted film, one which is heavily torn between being mean and harsh, which it does too well, or sweet and light, which it comes nowhere near doing well enough, particularly as it has a cast of actors who never can convince you that they were ever all young at the same time, let alone from the same neighbourhood.  Based on the true story of an actual group of friends who have been playing tag for 23 years (and some of their stunts are recreated in the film), this one is best skipped in favour of the highly superior Game Night.

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