Sunday, July 1, 2018

Tag

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

A group of friends from Spokane have been playing the same game of tag for the last three decades or so during the whole month of May. This year, it's different. After applying at Bob's (Jon Hamm) company as some sort of covert operation just for the sake of tagging him, Hogan (Ed Helms) convinces his friend to fly with him to Denver to pick up their pothead friend Chilli (Jake Johnson). Afterwards, the trio crash Kevin's (Hannibal Buress) psychotherapy session before they all fly home to Washington for their special mission. Jerry (Jeremy Renner) has never been tagged ever since they started playing the game in their childhood. He also plans to retire after getting married to his fiancé before the month ends. With Wall Street Journal writer Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) who plans to cover their story in tow, the group attempts to tag their friend one last time, but nobody said it's going to be easy.

Don't get me wrong, Tag is fun. It feels just like the game itself as far as the adrenaline rush is concerned. They try to stay true to their motto: You don't stop playing because you get old; you get old because you stop playing. Or something to that effect. For us older millennials who haven't always had to deal with the distraction of social media, keeping ourselves occupied back in the day meant playing games, and tag was always a popular choice because it is such an easy game to play. Watching this movie just brings us back to those days of carefree fun.

One issue you might have with this narrative is the requisite suspension of disbelief. While based on a true story, there is reason to believe that artistic license has been abused here, at least based on the way some of the scenes are filmed. Or maybe it's just Renner? A lot of jokes and memes have already capitalized on this material claiming how Hawkeye wasn't in Infinity War because he was busy playing tag with his friends. True enough, Jerry's precision and skills seem too super at times. In the end you do not see either Renner or Jerry anymore. You just see Clint Barton, albeit not in costume.

Perhaps it was necessary, though? After all, would you pay 10 bucks to see five grown men chasing and tagging one another? Not really. The story is based on a real Wall Street Journal article and as the credits roll they show footage of the real guys playing the game in various locations. We don't really know if those were just recreated for the film, after all they already look old in those video clips, but the narrative is grounded on the claim that it is based on real events. But a simple game will not suffice to buoy up an entire movie. You need a storyline.

And that's where it starts to become a little bit farfetched. In trying to come up with something interesting enough to keep your attention for an hour or two, the finished product ended up a bit too convoluted that it just lost its emotional core amidst all the gimmickry. Instead of highlighting the friendship and camaraderie from the get-go, there is just this strange air of antagonism from Jerry's side which is explained later anyway but still feels a bit forced and unnecessary. Given those factors, it feels like this is the type of movie that you wouldn't mind seeing on HBO in an eventless Saturday evening.

In any case, the theme still stirs something up within you, especially if you are in some sort of crossroads in your life wishing adulthood would just go away and leave you be. Where Tag succeeds is its tribute to carefree existence, to always being young regardless how old you already are. If anything, what those real-life friends have is something truly enviable, and in exchange for that realization we can forgive the movie for whatever shortcomings it has in terms of storyline and plot development. Maybe this just reinforces what has been said about it being a perfect HBO home movie. You watch it with a group of good friends and reminisce about the good old days after the credits roll and then, perhaps, play one round of tag too.


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