The real-life group of grown men in Spokane who’ve been playing an annual game of tag for decades — the inspiration for this film — would probably make for a more interesting documentary than this movie’s fictional take. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.
The subtitle on the posters for the movie “Tag” is “We’re Not Kidding,” and having now sat through the film, I can tell you that they are not: This movie is, seriously, about a group of grown men who play tag. It’s inspired by a real-life group of grown men in Spokane who’ve been playing an annual monthlong game of tag together since their schooldays, decades ago; we see them in a few scenes of real-life grownup tag-playing (a phrase I never thought I’d type) just before the end credits. These scenes, let me just say, are much funnier than “Tag” the movie, which is mostly noteworthy for the pleasure of watching Jon Hamm tackling people while wearing a Don-Draper-in the-21st-century suit.
There’s virtually no plot to “Tag”; just a lot of chasing around, in various locations. The Tag Brothers here (yes, that’s what they really call themselves) are Hoagie (Ed Helms), Jerry (Jeremy Renner), Bob (Hamm), Chilli (Jake Johnson) and Sable (Hannibal Burress). (“Hoagie, Chilli & Sable” sounds like an extremely low-rent accounting firm, doesn’t it?) Jerry, the undefeated tag champion (he has never been It, in 30 years) is getting married, and wants his wedding to be a tag-free zone. The guys disagree, and the game is on.
The cast is a likable bunch, and I can see how “Tag” might go down nicely with a couple of beers beforehand; it’s definitely funny in spots, in a we’re-making-this-up-as-we-go-along sort of way. But despite a last-act bid for pathos (quickly shuffled aside for those real-life videos), there just isn’t much here. Why not make a documentary about the actual Tag Brothers, whose members include a priest, a Nordstrom executive and a guy known as Beef? They’re the stars of this film, however fleeting.
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★★ “Tag,” with Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Burress, Annabelle Wallis, Isla Fisher, Leslie Bibb, Rashida Jones. Directed by Jeff Tomsic, from a screenplay by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen. Rated R for language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity. Multiple theaters.