The first trailer for ensemble slapstick comedy Tag is here. Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress, Ed Helms, and Jake Johnson — with support from Isla Fisher, Rashida Jones, Leslie Bibb, and Annabelle Wallis — are childhood friends who haven’t quit playing a game of tag they started in first grade. Their next play date happens to fall on the wedding of the undefeated fifth competitor, played by Jeremy Renner.
Watch it here:
The synchronized watch scene provides neat character portraits: the try-hard, who suggests the idea (Helms); the smarmy one, who has a flashy piece but doesn’t know how to use it (Hamm); the waster, who doesn’t have a watch (Johnson); and the stoner, who doesn’t believe in time (Buress). Which leaves Renner’s “never been tagged” Jerry as the perpetual maestro. They’re accessible types played by apt and engaging actors. And, despite this being his feature debut, director Jeff Tomsic has a history working with a host of comedic talent across stand-up specials and TV series (Broad City).
The macho posturing of Renner’s “superhero run” filmed intro seems to suggest there will be at least some degree of knowingness regarding the “same game of tag for 30 years” premise. Hopefully, Tomsic and co-writers Rob McKittrick (Waiting…) and Mark Steilen (Mozart in the Jungle) take the opportunity to explore regressive male nostalgia. These friends seem happy to destroy anything and everything around them, from furniture to loved ones, to get their fix of childish kicks.
It’s a theme that’s more relevant than ever, now that the old boy’s clubs throughout Hollywood and the working world are starting to be exposed as the dangerously toxic environments they are. As is so often the way, a film that will have been written, planned, and shot years ago is suddenly relevant right now in a way it might not have been previously.
The trailer goes out of its way to stress that this is “BASED ON A TRUE STORY” — well, via a Wall Street Journal article written by Russell Adams — with the “(we’re not kidding)” angle of the likes of Pain & Gain and I, Tonya. It always strikes me as an odd marketing call, but I guess they’re hoping it’ll make the story seem just that little more outrageous.
The children’s game set-up connects it with Game Night, which also takes a “harmless” adult get-together and introduces real-world stakes. Quite the sleeper hit at the box office, that fellow Warner Bros. release has been hailed as one of the better studio comedies of the past few years. Also, with Truth or Dare (sorry, Blumhouse’s Truth or Dare) out this spring, 2018 is looking like the year our favorite childhood games get the big screen, bigger stakes treatment.
That being said, unlike those other two examples, it’s not clear what the threat is here. Game Night‘s real-life murder mystery is a brilliantly simple hook, as is the It Follows-meets-Final Destination slasher rulebook of Truth or Dare, but hopefully Tag is yet to show its full hand. Or maybe, for these guys, their male pride is the biggest wager of all?
Tag hits theaters June 15th.