By: Nick van Dinther
A great ensemble cast requires actors to seamlessly fit together, while simultaneously bringing their own uniqueness to the story and to their character. It’s a crucial key that Tag gets right, and it’s the main reason why this movie is so much fun.
The ensemble is filled out by Jeremy Renner, Hannibal Buress, Jon Hamm, Ed Helms, and Jake Johnson. Together, they contribute to a true story about friends who have been playing the same game of tag from youth, and deep into their adult lives. The actual subjects of this movie are best known for a Wall Street Journal article written about them in 2013 – it’s an unbelievable story and the fact that it actually happened is astonishing. And for a buddy comedy, the premise translates very well to the big screen.
Helms and Hamm play the more grounded characters to offset the quirks of Johnson and Renner. Buress is the secret ingredient who often steals the show. However, as a team, they all make sure Tag doesn’t become too cartoony or lose its believable chemistry. Tag is also supported by some wonderful women. Isla Fisher is a blast as the film’s wildest character, contrasting with Rashida Jones’ subtle work.
One of Tag’s triumphs is its approach to comedy. Using slapstick and minimal bathroom humour, Tag relies more on the natural relationships and energy of the cast. Director Jeff Tomsic, who cut his teeth directing comedic television shows and stand-up specials, deserves credit too for how well this film works. He executes gameplay sequences with entertaining cleverness, which matches the tone of the comedy. He also succeeds in balancing sub-plots and having them never clutter the overall story – a problem that often happens in mainstream comedies.
With a good sense of humour and genuine heart, Tag is a fun film that reminds its R-rated audience about the importance of simple pleasures.
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Nick van Dinther: @NickVanDinther