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A raunchy comedy with genuine heart, Tag gets you in the game

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Vicky Sparks

If I told you five 40-something men had been taking a month off annually to play tag for the past 30 years you’d think that was ridiculous. And it is – in the best way possible.

Based on a true story (where there are actually 10 players including a priest) the movie Tag tells the story of childhood friends who used a game to stay connected, despite living very separate lives.

This is not a case of man-children who refuse to grow up – they’re all adults living adult lives and dealing with adult stresses, but once a year they let their inner kid shine, and this movie implies they’re much better off because of it.

The commitment they show to the game knows no bounds. They’ve flown across the world, snuck into workplaces, broken into houses, hidden in trunks of cars, and tagged players at funerals. There is NO length they would deem too far to go for the pleasure of yelling “You’re it!”

The movie takes place during the last few days of May (designated tag month) when the group unites to try and tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner) who has never been tagged.

Adamant that his reign over the game ends this year, they infiltrate his wedding weekend determined to stop at nothing until he’s it.

It’s a fairly simple plot based on the simplest of all children’s games but that’s part of the fun – the simple plot allows the comedy to be the star of the show.

The movie shows the same commitment as its real life counterparts with its ensemble cast committing 100% to the hijinks. It’s nice to see Jon Hamm flex his impressive comedic talents for a change and Jake Johnson as the resident disaster/super stoner injects a vulnerability that makes his character more than a familiar trope. Hannibal Buress’ deadpan reactions to the nonsense going on around him is perfection, and Isla Fisher steals every scene as Ed Helms’ wife, a manic ball of enthusiasm desperate to be let into the game (no girls allowed – obviously).

And Ed Helms as Hoagie, perhaps the most invested player of the game, brings a sweet earnestness to what could have been, in less capable hands, a C-level bro comedy.

Whenever they’re asked why they’re still playing a children’s game 30 years later, the men repeat their mantra: “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

You get the sense they’re aware of how cheesy that sounds but also believe it in its core message.

Tag is based on a silly premise and it’s done with equal parts raunchy comedy and genuine heart. It will make you want to round up your childhood friends and see if they’ve got time for a game.

Vicky Sparks is a Bright’s Grove native and movie critic for Global TV’s The Morning Show, which airs nationally on Fridays. Her Journal Reviews cover movies playing at Galaxy Cinemas Sarnia


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