Following last year’s Truth Or Dare, here is another film based on a classic childhood game. TV director Jeff Tomsic makes his cinematic debut with this all-star cast led “comedy” which takes cues from the hugely enjoyable Game Night but is inspired by the true story of a Tag game that has been going on for nearly four decades. Sadly Tomsic’s big screen iteration is crushingly banal: an agonisingly trite waste of life film or digital memory that lacks purpose, decorum and, most of all, laughs. Tag starts in 1983, at the outset of the decades stretching session where young versions of the protagonists, resembling Stranger Things cast-offs, are deployed as plot cogs then swiftly discarded.
The story zips to the now “grown up” players. Dr. Hogan Malloy (Ed Helms) gets a job as a janitor at Freedom Atlantic insurance company so he can tag old friend, Chief Executive Bob Callahan (John Hamm). The two reconnect with old school pals Randy (Jake Johnson) Reggie (Lil Rel Howery), Kevin (Hannibal Buress) and, along with Hogan’s wife Anna (Isla Fisher) and Wall Street Journal reporter Rebecca Crosby (Annabelle Wallis), travel back to their home town to try and track down the elusive Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner): a cagey friend who has never been tagged but has dedicated a great deal of his life learning how to avoid it.
The friends (and film) disregard logic and decorousness to track down Jerry via a series of trite set-pieces, beefed with supposedly intricate scheming and ineptly jimmied in exposition that still doesn’t reveal why they are playing the game as grown ups. The team find Jerry then try to make contact. Cue contrived slow-mo/ superhero film style fight sequences at shopping centres, hospitals and weddings. Punchy chase sequences, crap disguises, product placement and discordant comedy unscramble from the narrative with a lack of panache as the cast discomfit via cardboard dialogue/plotting, flat slapstick gags and vacant disdain.
It’s thankfully free of fart jokes but there’s a great deal of dope smoking (with CG plumes) to make Tag categorise as a stoner comedy and possibly find the only audience that might find it remotely funny. Plastic pratfalls recall the kind of flat-pack Pink Panther sequel lacking Peter Sellers, while inappropriate/ awkward sexist/homophobic humour is presented in a context to suggest it’s ironic.
Instead Tag resounds more like a bad Carry On film than Borat or Blazing Saddes and gets progressively worse as it degenerates into tainted cine-smegma or the smart drug enthused afterbirth of Police Academy: Mission To Moscow, that’s about as funny as falling down a long flight of stairs and then waking up in the arms of a damp Bobby Davro.