Review Roundup: Critics Weigh In On TAG
For one month every year, five highly competitive friends hit the ground running in a no-holds-barred game of tag they've been playing since the first grade-risking their necks, their jobs and their relationships to take each other down with the battle cry: "You're It!" This year, the game coincides with the wedding of their only undefeated player, which should finally make him an easy target. But he knows they're coming...and he's ready. Based on a true story, the New Line Cinema comedy "Tag" shows how far some guys will go to be the last man standing.
"Tag" is directed by Jeff Tomsic (Comedy Central's "Broad City"), with a starring ensemble cast led by Ed Helms (The "Hangover" movies, "We're the Millers"), Jake Johnson (TV's "New Girl"), Annabelle Wallis ("The Mummy"), Rashida Jones (TV's "Parks and Recreation"), Isla Fisher ("Now You See Me"), Leslie Bibb ("Iron Man 2"), HANNIBALBuress ("Neighbors"), with Jon Hamm ("Baby Driver," TV's "Mad Men") and Oscar nominee Jeremy Renner ("The Hurt Locker," "The Town"). The "Tag" screenplay was written by Rob McKittrick ("Waiting") and Mark Steilen (TV's "Mozart in the Jungle"), screen story by Mark Steilen, and based on THE WALL Street Journal article entitled "It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It," by Russell Adams. The film is produced by Todd Garner and Mark Steilen, with Hans Ritter, Richard Brener, Walter Hamada and Dave Neustadter serving as executive producers. The creative filmmaking team includes director of photography Larry Blanford, production designer David Sandefur, editor Josh Crockett, and costume designer Denise Wingate.
The film hits theaters today, so lets see what the critics are saying here:
Emily Yoshida, Vulture: "The only non-loser thus far is Renner's Jerry - in the 30 years of the game he's never been It once, and with his impending nuptials to his high-strung fiancée Susan (Leslie Bibb), he's announced that this will be his last year of the game. The rest of the guys are not about to let him out of the game with a spotless record, and they all descend on their hometown of Spokane to make sure he's tagged before his wedding day. But Jerry might be the most obsessed with Tag of all of them, and as a physical trainer of apparently some renown, he's physically unstoppable. The mundane reality of the guys' lives gets tweaked into the fantastical when Jerry's in the picture, with plenty of speed-ramped action and CG stunts to amplify it. We get on some level why the game occupies such a hallowed place in their lives, why even their wives and partners (particularly Isla Fisher as Hoagie's rabidly competitive wife) are also drawn into its centrifugal pull. Tag makes their lives a movie, which makes Tag both full-circle and redundant."
Peter Travers, Rolling Stone: "It's great to see Hamm drop his Don Draper brooding to exercise his impressive comic chops; is bantering scenes with the quick-witted Johnson have a bounce that rolls easily over the plot absurdities. Their attempts to reconnect with a girlfriend-that-got away (Rashida Jones) resonate BEYOND the call of farce duty. Renner, who broke his arms in an on-set accident early in the shoot, shows dexterity to spare, and Buress is a riot just reacting to all this nonsense. But it's Helms who expertly reveals the reasons for Hoagie's desperation to tag Jerry and say those crucial two words: "You're it.""
Steve Greene, IndieWire: "Fortunately, Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen's script avoids forcing Rebecca into a romantic situation with any of the Tag Team. But into that void goes Rashida Jones, whose Cheryl Deakins is the object of desire for both Chilli and Callahan. Propped up merely as another wistful reminder of days past, Jones' inclusion feels less like an extra story layer and more of an excuse to distract a few of these guys from their collective obsession for a few scenes."
David Sims, The Atlantic: "So, this is essentially a movie about a group of men who plot to ruin another man's wedding, all because of a game that mostly involves them hiding in the bushes and jumping out at each other in strained attempts to make some kind of physical contact. Again and again, in voiceover, Hogan tells the viewer that the game has kept them all together for years, reciting the old aphorism, "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." It's unclear whether the film finds this particular manifestation of that idea tragic or risible."
Jon Frosch, The Hollywood Reporter: "Unsurprisingly, the ladies don't have much to do, with Fisher getting the most screen time but few notes to play other than foul-mouthed belligerence. (Bibb's big moment, meanwhile, is a woefully ill-advised gag revolving around a faked miscarriage.) The top-tier supporting/cameo cast includes Rashida Jones as the object of Callahan and Chilli's rivalrous affections; Nora Dunn as Hoagie's loopy mother; Carrie Brownstein as Sable's therapist; and, best in show, Thomas Middleditch as a gay-panic-gripped gym clerk."
Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: "When asked by everyone they meet why they do this - why they keep playing this kids' game after all these years - the guys keep repeating, "We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing." You get the sense they've said this mantra of an excuse so many times that they know how corny and hollow it sounds. But the magic of Tag is that it winds up being absolutely true. It's a ridiculously raunchy and very, very sweet comedy about staying connected to the most important people in your life. The people who know everything about you and what makes you tick - even the things you'd rather they didn't. It's about being vulnerable and accepted unconditionally. This silly game about getting away from one another, deep down, is about staying close and getting closer."
Image courtesy of Tag Official Facebook page