‘Tag’ is underrated

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This summer, I worked a 24/7 job at a girls’ sleepaway camp for 10 weeks. Since I only got one day off every 10 days, I had to plan my downtime very carefully. This meant painstakingly choosing what would be the only feature length movie I’d have enough time to sit down and watch until my next day off. The only one of these films I saw in theaters was “Tag,” and I can pretty definitively say I didn’t regret the trip into town to see it. I saw it alone soon after its release, and aside from two older men, I was the only one in the theater. Granted, it was a local college town that probably didn’t get much traffic in the summer months, but even now, I think it’s safe to say that no one really cared about this movie. And, fair, I guess; it’s not going to be snatching up any Oscars, but it was pretty funny, and even a little bit heartwarming. I guess what I’m trying to say is, if the premise interests you, it’s probably worth the watch.

The one major boon of “Tag” is the concept behind the film; it’s based on the true story of a 30-year-long game of tag. This is a solid, solid premise with nearly infinite comedic potential. And it was funny. The film used the surroundings in an interesting way, there was some internal dialogue in parts of it that made me laugh, and the whole cast gave a solid performance. The characters had a nice group dynamic, especially Ed Helms’ character and his wife. I think I personally needed a little more convincing to believe that Jeremy Renner’s character was actually friends with any of them, though.

The film had some droning exposition in parts. This is the type of movie that could benefit from doing a little more showing and a little less telling. The writers definitely kind of overthought the audience’s introduction to the game tag. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I’d say it is definitely a universal experience. As an audience, if we decided to go see this movie, chances are, we probably don’t need a lot of explanation. It’s a very simple premise, a simple plot, just give it to me already.

That being said, the filmmakers could have developed the characters just a little bit more. I’m writing this review months after actually seeing the movie, and I can’t remember what any of the main cast of characters were like, except Jake Johnson’s character, whose primary character trait was that he smoked weed. Even so, I do appreciate that the filmmakers didn’t try to pair the single female characters with any of the guys. It’s definitely refreshing to see a movie aimed at adults that has a “friendship above all” kind of message.

Overall, I enjoyed “Tag.” But if I had been the one tasked with creating this movie, I definitely would have made a documentary (or at the very least, shot it documentary-style). Although the film was OK and I had a good time, my very favorite part came during the credits, when I got to watch a series of old home videos made by the original group of friends this story was based on. You can tell that the people behind “Tag” actually tried very hard to recreate some of these scenes, and their work paid off. But nothing can top the original! The friendship these guys share is very, very easy to see, even just in the way they reacted to each other when they were tagged in new and hilarious ways. They weren’t frustrated or upset that they were “it.” They were just happy to see each other. I’d watch two hours of that, easily.