Normally, you hope that a silly comedy like Tag will at the very least be saved by its cast. Obviously, you’re not going to get Dr. Strangelove out of an Ed Helms comedy directed by a guy best known for working on horrible sitcoms. But it’s not every week we get a movie like this one. Tag is so relentlessly tone-deaf that by the third time one character directly and sadistically wished a miscarriage on another, I went into a dissociative state as I used to do when I was getting beaten up by my dad — Happy belated Father’s Day, by the way — and just tried to exist without thinking or feeling, running out the clock knowing that the moment would eventually come when this ordeal would end and I could resume living my life. So, yeah, Tag is not great.
My issues with this film are myriad, but for the sake of brevity I’ll focus on how the introduction of the premise itself makes zero sense. We repeatedly hear that this group of friends has been playing the same game of tag for 30 years. We see their first game with the on-screen title reading “1983.” We then cut to “Present Day.” The point being that 1983 was actually 35 years ago. So why not just have the title card read “Thirty Years Later”? That’s annoying! And not only that but, again, it’s stated over and over. IMDb claims this movie cost 28 million bucks. They don’t hire people to keep this stuff straight anymore? You don’t get to adjust all of math and the flow of time itself just because Jeremy Renner is wearing CGI arms, beautifully rendered though they may be.
And to that point, how weird is it that I never once noticed any funny business going on with those computer arms? Justice League made Henry Cavill look like Cesar Romero so many times I thought I was living through some kind of Vanilla Sky situation, but Tag figured out how to make a character do almost nothing but engage in hand-to-hand combat for an entire movie and never once show their CGI hand? It’s unreal.
But those action sequences are another problem. They sometimes work, mixing up styles and even one-upping Zack Snyder’s own overcranked technique a few times. But the better they get, the more they just highlight how egregiously out of place they are. The rest of the movie around them is just sort of there, shot in the lazy, pedestrian manner one might expect from something like this.
The worst offense for any comedy, though, is not being funny. Tag is merciless in how hard it tries to be “edgy” and go for gross-out or outrageous humor when it doesn’t even make sense to do that — which would be fine if, again, it was funny. And after all that, it ends with footage of the real-life tag players as if we just watched a movie about hero firefighters or World War II pilots or something. I’ve never felt so strongly about my own health and well-being as I have since I saw Tag because I want to live for as long as it will take to erase the memory of this movie from my mind.
Rated R for language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity. Now playing at AMC River Hills Classic 10, Carolina Cinemark, Epic of Hendersonville, Regal Biltmore Grande.