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Tag (2018)

Warner Bros. Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/28/2018

All Ratings out of

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/11/2018

In my recent reviews for Adrift and Won't You Be My Neighbor?, I wrote about how what does or doesn't make a biopic or a documentary appealing. Something else to examine is how most of these movies take on serious, if not downright depressing topics. Simply look at a list of the (numerous) biopics which have cluttered the Best Picture category over the past few years and you'll find a group of somber, humorless movies. Plenty of fun and funny things happen to real people everyday. Why doesn't anyone make a movie out of those stories? It would appear that Tag answers that question.

Tag introduces us to a group of guys who have been friends since childhood. And every May, despite the fact that they are now adults, Bob (Jon Hamm), Hobie (Ed Helms), Chilli (Jake Johnson), and Sable (Hannibal Buress), find themselves embroiled in a game of tag. And while they take turns being "it", they've never been able to tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner). But, Hoagie is convinced that this will be the year, as he wants the group to confront Jerry at his wedding, an event which Jerry hasn't exactly publicized. Hoagie approaches Bob with this idea while he is being interviewed by The New York Times reporter Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis), who is intrigued by this game of tag. So, this group, along with Hoagie's wife, Anna (Isla Fisher), head to their hometown to tag Jerry. But, we soon learn that Jerry is a jacked-up madman who will go to any lengths to win.

There have been plenty of fiction films which have an idea which may not be enough to sustain a feature-length movie. The concept is promising, but it simply runs out of gas. However, it's surprising to see this occur with a movie which is based on a real-life story. There's no doubt that the notion of a group of adults not only playing tag, but continuing a game of tag which they've been playing for decades, is an intriguing one. However, can one build an entire movie around that concept? As essayed by Screenwriters Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen, the answer to that is no. We are introduced to the characters and their individual personalities and the explanation of the game is put forth. After that, the movie limps along until it gets to the twist ending.

The other big hurdle with Tag is that one must by into the fact that Jerry and, by extension, Jeremy Renner, is a total badass. I don't mind Renner as an actor, but I've never really bought into him as a tough guy. This notion is stretched to the limit in Tag, as it doesn't really know what to do with Jerry. Again, the movie is based on a real group of friends, and while there are some over-the-top moments in the first act, it is grounded in reality. But, when Jerry is introduced, he's like some sort of super-hero ninja who possesses the skills of a secret agent. We are told that he runs a gym, but we never learn from where these other attributes emerge. And, while the guys give each other good-natured ribbings, Jerry comes across as a sociopath.

At its crux, Tag is meant to be a comedy, but the issues noted above really hamper the laughs. The level of humor is nearly extinguished by the overall mean-spirited nature of the movie. This should be (and was advertised as) a goofy comedy. However, the film movie shoots itself in the foot with some truly off-key moments. One involves a scene which shows the truly twisted extent that Jerry will go to in order to keep from being tagged. The second is the twist at the ending, which puts an unnecessarily dark damper on the finale. Yes, there are jokes in the film, but most of them fall very flat. Jake Johnson, who is so funny on New Girl, is completely wasted here, literally, as all of Chilli's jokes revolve around drugs. The only bright spot is Hannibal Buress, who appears to be in a different movie, as his lines are often non-sequiturs and they are often funny. Otherwise, we have a movie which has a group of familiar actors running from one sketch-like scene to another, producing few laughs and presenting us with a movie which appears to be going out of its way to be bad. Stay far away from this movie and you won’t have to worry about being tagged.

Tag glosses over the fact that Hoagie and Anna have been a couple since elementary school on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 35 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no overt grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look very good, and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is good, and the picture is never soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. Some of the action sequences are accompanied by music which delivers throbbing bass that works hand-in-hand with sound coming from the rear channels. The crowd scenes also bring us some surround effects, and stereo effects that show good separation.

The Tag Blu-ray Disc contains only a few extra features. "Meet the Real Tag Brothers" (5 minutes) introduces us to some of the real guys on whom the story is based. They explain the game and we see from home video footage of them playing. The Disc offers eight DELETED SCENES which run about 6 minutes. There are no new subplots or characters introduced here, but Hannibal has some more good lines. The final extra is a 8-minute GAG REEL.

Review Copyright 2018 by Mike Long