Tag is a sloppy joe of a movie. It’s artistically unambitious, structurally unsound, and of questionable nutritional value. It’ll fill you up, though, and sometimes that’s all you really want out of a comedy. Tag’s not too long, and you don’t have to pay close attention to follow the plot, plus there are a few dumb laughs along the way. Who cares if it’s basically a fistful of chum-meat, spongy gluten, and some sort of indescribable sauce that came out of a packet?
The packet in this case is a 2013 Wall Street Journal article about a group of men that continued to play tag well into adulthood. Using that as the barest wisp of a narrative skeleton, Tag assembles three solid character actors (Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner, Jake Johnson), one legitimately hilarious comedian (Hannibal Buress), and Ed Helms to portray these friends. One of ’em, Renner, is getting married and wants to retire with his undefeated status. The other four make it their mission to tag him before the window closes forever.
What else do you need to know? Earlier this year, Game Night took a similar conceit—grown-ass grownups spending all their time playing children’s games—and made something similarly tolerable. In this case, Tag gets its mileage from the likeability of its stars and a few extended sequences in which Renner, Road Runner-like, outwits the four dipshit Wile E. Coyotes in slapsticky set pieces that usually end with somebody getting hit in the balls.
Buress is by far and away the funniest of these five, even though he gets the least to do. He squints confusedly at his surroundings, dropping non-sequiturs and seeming generally unsure of what he’s doing here in the first place. This is the correct approach. Renner’s fastidiousness is used to good effect, too; try not to think too hard about the fact that he broke both his arms during filming and that you’re essentially looking at a half-CGI monstrosity.
Oh. Right. There are also four underwritten women characters! Like, pathetically underwritten: Isla Fisher is the too-intense wife, Leslie Bibb is the nagging fiancée, Rashida Jones is the third part of a dumb love triangle, and Annabelle Wallis is a reporter who can somehow leave town at the drop of a hat in order to follow these bozos across the country. The last of these two are really thoughtlessly drawn: Jones doesn't have a single distinguishable trait other than the fact that two of the dudes want to bang her, while Wallis’ journalist exists solely so the fellas can conveniently explain stuff to her.
If Tag had anything to say about actual human beings living in the real world, I could see how its incredibly sexist laziness would be a huge problem. In this goofy-ass cartoon, though? I don’t know. It seems like getting mad at your sloppy joe when the soggy bun turns to mush and inevitably collapses.