In recent years, we've been lucky to get even one successful studio comedy every 12 months, sometimes going long stretches between any mainstream film that can consistently make us laugh. But in 2018, we've already had two: Game Night and Blockers. And now you can add Tag to that list, because it's also a total blast that's consistently hilarious.
While the premise – grown men playing the game of Tag – is inherently ridiculous, it's based on a true story, as chronicled in a 2013 Wall Street Journal feature. The film, perhaps unwisely, turns that into a meta aspect, with Annabelle Wallis' reporter profiling Jon Hamm's insurance exec, only to be interrupted by a disguised Ed Helms tagging him mid-interview. Almost immediately, they're off to the races, gathering their crew (Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress) to take down their buddy Jerry (Jeremy Renner), who's soon to marry and retire from the game.
Tag hits the high bar of a lot of great comedies, succeeding at almost every type of humor: inappropriate jokes, one-liners, insults, visual gags and recurring bits. Each character gets his moment in the sun to score a big laugh. And while this is mostly a boys club, Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones and Leslie Bibb all get multiple chances to shine. While the characters aren't especially deep, they're all distinct and have their own personalities and humor styles. (Well, except poor Annabelle Wallis. She gets nothing to do except act shocked at how far these guys will go to win.)
The film takes a super-dark twist in its third act, and some audience members at my screening were not on board with jokes about such a serious topic. The film also doubles down on the morbidity later, but in a way that's more sincere and heartfelt. Thankfully, it never goes full melodrama, defusing the sadness with even more jokes in a way that feels true to the movie we've been watching.
Tag isn't as high-concept or deep as some other excellent comedies this year, but it's a solid source of laughs in a summer that sorely needs them.