New Line Cinema

Why would Hogan “Hoagie” Malloy (Ed Helms) interview at Bob Callahan’s (Jon Hamm – meow!) place of business in the hopes of landing a job for which he’s severely overqualified?

Well, because Hoagie is “it,” of course, and he’s looking to pawn that curse off on Bob – with a simple “Tag.”

“We just never stopped playing,” a voiceover explains, while images of kids playing Tag circa 1983 slowly lay the foundation for this ridiculously lively flick.

The movie tells the tale of lifelong friends – Hoagie and Bob, along with Randy “Chilli” Cilliano (Jake Johnson), Kevin Sable (Hannibal Buress – love this guy!), and Jerry Pierce (Jeremy Renner) – who have been taking part in this playground game for 30 years.

For real.

And the premise of “Tag” is “inspired by a true story.”

Yes, for real. Cool, right?

During the month of May for the past three decades, these five friends have traveled to different cities or states and have donned elaborate disguises to tag each other and keep the game going.

But now… “Jerry’s retiring,” Hoagie tells the others. There’s a good chance he’ll exit with a clean record and “make us all look like fools.”

Jerry, with his ninja-like skills, has never been tagged; the explanations and visuals accompanying this revelation are hilarious, by the way.

“We’ve got a real shot at Jerry this year,” Hoagie squeals with childlike enthusiasm, because he knows exactly where the elusive Jerry will be and when.

Game. On.

“Tag” isn’t just about the game, but it’s during those moments that the movie is at its funniest.

Director Jeff Tomsic blends slowed motion with real-time action, often alternating between the two speeds in the same scene – and those visuals, along with descriptive-movement narration, delivers some riotously funny moments.

And one of my favorite scenes has Chilli, Hoagie and Bob standing in a small circle, quickly and repetitively tagging the next guy after being tagged by the other (no tag-backs!).

Tomsic spins the camera around the trio in the direction opposite the rotation of their incessant tags, and I dare you to not laugh. It’s trippy and stupid and hilarious, and it fully expresses the playful nature around which this flick is based.

Ed Helms is a great choice to anchor this crew because he’s naturally funny. I mean, “The Office” and “The Hangover”? C’mon!

And I looooove seeing the often-serious Hamm in goofy comedic roles. That chair scene had me on the floor.

Buress’s relaxed demeanor and composed delivery always is a treat; his casual comedy is truly hypnotic.

Let’s be real, though: Every one of these guys is upstaged by Hoagie’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher). Her intensity for the game, despite not actually being a participant, is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and her outrageous outbursts crank the funny factor to 11.

“Tag” is more than hilarity and hijinks and a super competitive game; “It’s not about trying to get away from each other; it’s a reason for us to stay in each other’s lives.”

The movie is filled with silly humor and absurd physical comedy, and it once or twice sacrifices tact for a laugh (which I’m fine with, for the record). But watching these guys joke with one another and reconnect over 105 minutes is as enjoyable as watching them run around playing the game itself.

Will Jerry get tagged? Only one way to find out.

Tag; you’re it!

You have just enjoyed the insights of Movie Addict Mel, a cinema dork and conversational writer. Follow her on Twitter @movieaddictmel, and “like” her Facebook page www.facebook.com/movieaddictmel. You also can email her at movieaddictmel@outlook.com.

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