A group of men from Spokane, Washington have been playing a game of tag every month of May for thirty years. From that schoolyard tradition, they’ve found an atypical way to bring it together beyond the usual guy’s weekend or the slightly sad reunion. Of course, they are now scattered all about the United States, but once a year they play a literal game of catching up that emboldens their friendship.
They have mythologized their many seasons amongst themselves. And this year, they’re about to get some exposure as they’re picked up by The Wall Street Journal for a profile. This comes about after one of the men poses as a janitor (a job he gets in classic Step Brothersfashion) at his target’s company and fumbles his way into an interview about his company. The journalist has her interest piqued, finding a bigger story in their tag tournament than in reporting on the company’s standard fluff responses about who they are and what they do.
TAG is a lightweight and breezy bro comedy. It doesn’t have the biggest punchlines and never overshoots at being something bigger than a fun buddy flick. The cast is disproportionately good—Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Jeremy Renner and Hannibal Buress make up the Tag Brothers troupe. (Annabelle Wallis and Isla Fisher also turn in complementary performances.) They’re all evidently having loads of fun—almost certainly more than we are.The thing is, Renner’s character has never been tagged. And so, our boys are out to get him. That’s the entirety of the plot. That should mean it’s a bad slog, but everyone involved has made the most of it, especially Buress, who is an exceptional comedian with pitched timing.
When the group engages in a tag match, the film folds into something between a Western’s Mexican standoff and a martial arts slow-motion sequence. Detailed narration describes their movements like a play-by-play sports broadcast. These are good and funny, tying the movie together in a series of its best scenes.
TAG comes together nicely then. It has something easy to say about how we should keep our company. As the repeated team motto goes, “You don’t stop playing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop playing,” which they’ve misattributed to Ben Franklin throughout. Everything we do electronically has been gamified, but what about the ways we used to make connections through games? We were all chasing each other all along because we needed to make a connection. And that’s what TAG does for these grown boys. Maybe this is something you need a bit of right now?
I’ve done my due diligence and made sure TAG’s worthy of The Twin Geeks’ time. Now it’s your turn. Tag, you’re It.