2 ½ (out of 4)
Apart from the charms of its own loosely based true story and a watchable cast, there isn’t much talent going on in Tag that isn’t right in front of the camera.
It's refreshing to see Ed Helms finally finding himself a comfortable lead and alongside Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress and Jeremy Renner, the ensemble of Tag has fluent and frequently delightful camaraderie. But the writers of Waiting… and an inexperienced television director Jeff Tomsic, in his film debut, don’t bring much to this embellished “true story" besides childlike energy. Yet Tag is as good a comedy as the average summer season can provide. Writers Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen have a good time parodying numerous genres – action, spy thriller, horror – and abbreviating the Wall Street Journal story to what amounts to a decent comedy premise.
Every player has a hysterical moment or two even if character depth is in short supply. Helms' endearing goofiness, Johnson’s half-baked timing, Hamm’s straight-man charisma, Buress' trademark deadpan and Renner’s conscious badassery are all utilized to their fullest – the cast carries Tag 100%, although the film is thankfully devoid of improvisational padding. Great cameos from recognizable faces in comedy (Carrie Brownstein, Thomas Middleditch) also keep everything at least consistently amusing. And a typical hip-hop soundtrack is elevated slightly with tasteful, well-timed needle drops – "Shake Your Rump" could make any scene better.
The script feels the need to reflect on nostalgia and aging as the story strains to grasp at themes and emotional beats, but the effort just isn't worth it – the movie is about a game of tag for fuck’s sake. Too often Tag misjudges the importance of its real life players considering how obviously the film's events and characters have been fictionalized.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
Hell Fest, Venom
and A Star is Born