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“Tag” is centered on a group of friends who go to extreme lengths to carry on a lifelong game of tag, the schoolyard competition where someone is “it” until they make  physical contact with another player.

The movie is inspired by a 2013 Wall Street Journal story about a group of grown men still locked in a game of tag from when they were kids that never stopped. But it’s given the full Hollywood treatment, where all behavior is exaggerated, flimsy subplots abound (including one involving a terminal illness) and we’re given constant reminders that everything they’re doing, deep down, is about friendship, man.

Tag opens with Helms reminiscing voice-over covering his youthful self and his pals bonding through their ongoing game. Years later, they’ve grown up to be the expected types: the married man Hoagie (Ed Helms), the CEO Callahan (Jon Hamm), the burnout Randy (Jake Johnson) and the nerdy Sable (Hannibal Buress) are the core group of friends, and their mission, as always, is to tag the elusive Jerry (a hilarious Jeremy Renner), who in all their years of playing, has never been “it.” The guys travel to Jerry’s wedding, where they figure he’ll be a sitting duck to be tagged, but Jerry almost has a supernatural ability to avoid being “it”. So they go on a no-holds-barred quest to finally tag him. Renner’s Bourneesque strategies to avoid getting tagged generate the biggest laughs, giving it a “Sherlock Holmes” flair implementing Slo-Mo and providing voice over describing the attack, amidst a mouse trap series of complications and profanities that lead to equally expected life lessons in the final act.

There are other characters thrown in the pot to mix things up as well, a curious Journal writer (Annabelle Wallis) join them. Callahan and Randy are given an old flame to fight over (Rashida Jones plays the object of their affection), Hoagie is paired with an loose cannon of a wife (Isla Fisher) who wants to play the game, and in one sequence, the characters debate the ethics of water boarding. Yikes.

Closing-credits footage of the real-life player’s gives a more amateur documentary style, with shaky cam and poor video quality winding up to the shot of the The Wall Street Journal article featuring all the original members of the game of “TAG.

Rated R for language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity

Now on ClearPlay Streaming

I give it a B

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