A movie about a group of friends playing Tag; it’s an incredibly hard thing to pitch a film in Hollywood, but whoever pulled this one off did one hell of a job.
Based on a Wall Street Journal article entitled “It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It” by Russell Adams, screenwriters Mark Steilen and Rob Mckittrick have pieced together one incredibly strange film. Earlier this year we had another comedy film with a similar game-based premise that blew expectations out of the water. Game Night was a juggernaut of Clouzot-inspired suspense and Decamps-level humour. The great part of that film was also the use of Red’s Epic-W Helium 8K camera. Its RAW energy helped it to be comparable to the suspense films of the 1970’s, almost garnering a The Conversation-like feel to the texture of the image. Hot off… well, nothing, really, Jeff Tomsic snuggles into the director’s chair to try and pull off some of the same.
I can tell you the decision of filming in Spokane was the right choice. It gave the Wall Street Journal article it’s life on the screen. The immediate standout was Jeremy Renner. Honestly, I was expecting him to get the short end of the straw in current Moon Jae-in fashion, but his comedic ability really brought him up to a new level. The problem with his scenes though lie somewhere in the Zack Snyder inspired action sequences that have oversaturated and, ironically enough, slowed down action films of the last 15 years.
The acting from Isla Fisher, Jon Hamm, Rashida Jones, Jake Johnson and Leslie Bibb never seems to play out well on the Silver Screen even though all could be considered the best of their generation if given the correct roles. Instead, Jon Hamm continues to pursue comedy instead of taking harder-edged roles that made him a name in the first place. He is one of the best actors of modern times, it’s just a shame we never get to see that on the big screen. It’s a strange time when Ben Affleck’s returns are on the constant down-slope, yet we still award him with the bat suit over Hamm. Fisher hasn’t really had the chance to shine since The Lookout or Hot Rod, either. With the exception of Nocturnal Animals and Rango, filmmakers continually put her in a supporting role. At this point in her career, she should be selling tickets, not just rounding out a cast. Jones, Johnson, and Bibb all fall prey to the TV curse that Hamm has fallen victim. At least this time around the chemistry amongst all the actors seem to be there. The biggest blunder being Ed Helms, somebody who didn’t feel apart of the “gang,” more someone dropped in by the studio after the success of the refurbished Vacation franchise. It seems odd Will Farrell would drop this for Ed.
The film seemed to work though, more than its competition in Incredibles 2. Carrie Brownstein’s cameo is worth admission and Hannibal Buress proves he’s still a scene stealer outside Broad City. The writing and editing were completely on point. There’s a new generation of comedy afoot, one that brings the laughs while being technically brilliant as well.
So grab a set of friends and head down to the multiplex this weekend. Have some fun and go play a game of Tag after.