Grade: B
Entire family: No
2018, 100 min., Color
Comedy
Warner Bros.
Rated R for language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity
Aspect ratio: 2.40:1 widescreen
Featured audio: DTS-HDMA 5.1
Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Trailer
Amazon link

Though Tag is rated R—mostly for language (lots of f-bombs)—teens have been flocking to see it with their parents. After all, it is a movie about a kid’s game, and who hasn’t chased after someone on the playground or in the neighborhood in order to tap them and shout, “You’re it”? And how fun is it to see a children’s game elevated to the same, crazy, go-for-broke level of prom invitations?

Tag is a relatively plotless comedy that relies on the game and hijinks to sustain viewers’ interest for the entire 100 minutes. It stars Ed Helms, Jake Johnson, Annabelle Wallis, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, Jon Hamm, and Jeremy Renner. Renner plays the never-been-tagged super player that suddenly all the others want to join together to bring down—even though (or especially since?) he’s getting married during “tag month.” As you probably heard, Renner broke both of his arms on the second day of filming while trying to climb a stack of 20+ chairs. The rigging broke and he went down hard, but in the film it looks as fun as the rest of the elaborate stunts that these childhood friends have been pulling in order to tag each other for nearly 30 years.

The game, no doubt, keeps their minds sharp and their bodies fit. But mostly it gives them a chance to keep in touch—literally. Credit The Wall Street Journal for bringing these guys to the public’s attention with a January 2013 front-page feature that led to notoriety and eventually this film from Warner Bros. and TV series/movie director Jeff Tomsic.

And it is laugh-out-loud funny in spots. It’s a bit like watching Impractical Jokers go at each other, with side plots that don’t seem to matter. You really are just itching to see the next tag attempt . . . and the next . . . and the next.

I won’t spoil the fun by providing examples, but to give you an idea, here’s some of the stunts the real-life “tagsters” pulled during the one month each year that they play the game:

One man was tagged while entering a school play with his wife and daughters. Another arrived at a TV station for an interview and got the message to meet the group’s agent in the parking lot to talk about offers for the movie rights, only to be tagged by one of the other guys who popped out of the trunk of a nearby parked car. Another player enlisted his daughter’s help, with the pair masquerading as an old couple shuffling into a restaurant so the man could put his hand on his friend’s shoulder and say, “You’re it.” Said the victim, “It took me about a second-and-a-half to recognize him. He had the old Russian novelist costume.”

“I mean, Ben Franklin said it best. Am I right?” Ed Helms’ character says. “‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.’”

Several in the group mutter, “Uh, I don’t think Ben Franklin said that” (they’re right—It was George Bernard Shaw), but the point is made. The game helps keep them young . . . and stupid.

So how “R” rated is it? Don’t worry about the “brief nudity.” That’s an old man seen backside-nude in the closing credits when we see the real tagsters. There’s no nudity in the film itself.

There’s plenty of jokes about sex, genitalia, masturbation, gang bangs, and potency, but these days that’s pretty much in the wheelhouse of PG-13 films. No sex is shown, though sex is implied between a boy and girl, as it is when we see a woman in a bra in the backseat of a car with a man and it’s plenty obvious what they’re doing without the director having to show anything. There’s also a scene where we understand that a man and woman have just had a quickie in a public restroom, though it’s all off-camera. No, the R-rating comes mostly, as I said, from foul language and there’s a ton of it. If you’re okay watching a movie like that with your teen, then Tag is otherwise harmless fun.

Language: I stopped counting at 30 f-bombs, and there’s also a lot of lesser swearwords, including synonyms for male and female genitalia.

Sex: Only what I’ve already mentioned.

Violence: Mostly pratfalls that are the result of the guys playing extreme tag, but one woman is given a bloody nose when she’s hit with a can of beer, a guy is knocked unconscious in another scene, people jump from windows and smash into things on the way down, people crash into things as they’re trying to tag each other, and there’s one fist-fight—but it’s all done for laughs.

Adult Situations: One character is a regular marijuana toker (he even sleeps with a joint in his fingers), and there’s some drinking at a wedding reception and at a bar, in addition to the drinking the guys do on their own.

Takeaway: I wouldn’t call this a classic comedy by any means, but it’s an entertaining one that will probably get a lot of repeat play, because it’s really a bunch of gags strung together and the characters themselves are fun to watch.

 

Advertisements