Film Review: TAG (USA 2018)

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Tag Poster
Trailer

A small group of former classmates organize an elaborate, annual game of tag that requires some to travel all over the country.

Director:

 Jeff Tomsic

Writers:

Rob McKittrick (screenplay by), Mark Steilen (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

Writers:

Rob McKittrick (screenplay by), Mark Steilen (screenplay by) | 2 more credits »

TAG the film is based on the kids playground game “Tag”.  The comedy centres on a group of kids, now fully grown up with jobs who have been playing this game every year during  the month of May for 30 years.

Sounds unbelievable?  The ads and the film itself make sure that the audience is reminded of this fact.  Based on a True Story.  But this phrase can mean a lot of things and it seems that only the main fact that the men are still playing the game is true.  All else could have been made up for what Warner Bros. hopes to be a successful box-office male comedy to the likes of THE HANGOVER or HOT TUB TIME MACHINE.

The film is based on real-life friends from Spokane featured in a 2013 Wall Street Journal article, “It Takes Planning, Caution to Avoid Being It” by Russell Adams.  When the film opens, one of the friends, a CEO, Bob Callahan (Jon Hamm) is being interviewed by a Washington Post reporter (Annabelle Wallis) when he suddenly tagged by Hoagie (Ed Helms) who has sneaked into his office after gaining employment as a janitor.  The reporter decides to follow the men on the game to write her article on the friends playing tag.

The film goes downhill from this point and very fast.  The aim of the men is to tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner in Jason Bourne mode) who has never been it during all the many years.  Jerry is about to be wed to a high maintenance bride (Leslie Bibb) and this is the perfect opportunity to tag him as he has not much chance of getting away.

There is only so much one can do with this premise.  The chases get monotonous and one can only fall down in a limited number of ways when running away or banging into things.  Expensive ornaments get wrecked, windows broken, walls bashed in are what the audience is n for.  Director Tomsik (in his directorial debut, too and he is given this sorry script and story) even resorts to some inventive filming (example: the chases in a building are brought outside with the camera showing the chase as the men run past the windows) cannot lift the film from its mediocrity.  

The script by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen brings in the female element to expand the target audience with the characters of the bride and also Hoagie’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher).  Anna is very eager to get into the game (gender equality?), helping her husband aggressively.  Unfortunately none of their antics evoke many laughs.  The script calls for Anna to scream lots of vulgarities that only serve to emphasize how desperate the film is in need of laughter.  Worse still, the script inserts a message (and a very  obvious and unbelievable one at that) towards the end when Hoagie is hospitalized.  There is one coloured character, Sable (Hannibal Buress) who is not given much to do.

The film runs an hour and 45 minutes.   This is one game that has run too long.  But the film’s budget comes under $30 millions which means that it should make a bit of cash for this male adult comedy.

TAG the film is really not it!

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rQu77pgnpg

 

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TIFF 2017 Movie Review: CHAPPAQUIDDICK (USA 2017) ***

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

Chappaquiddick Poster
Ted Kennedy’s life and political career become derailed in the aftermath of a fatal car accident in 1969 that claims the life of a young campaign strategist, Mary Jo Kopechne.

Director:

John Curran

Stars:

Kate MaraEd HelmsJason Clarke

CHAPPAQUIDDICK is a story not many non-Americans are familiar with. If this is not a story that needs be told, and if it is not an interesting one, it is one that questions the right thing that human being should do. Presidents of the United States have always lied when confronted with catastrophe, Nixon and Clinton being the best examples. This film questions the integrity of Ted Kennedy, which is correctly chosen to be the subject oft the film rather than the incidents that occur.

This suspenseful historical drama examines the infamous 1969 incident when Senator Ted Kennedy (Jason Clarke) accidentally drove off a bridge, resulting in the death of campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne (Kate Mara).

This become known as the Chappaquiddick Incident. Kopechne was trapped in a car that Senator Ted Kennedy drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, following a night of festivities. Kennedy patriarch Joe (Bruce Dern), however, always considered his youngest son a ne’er-do-well — and he never let Ted forget it.

The party on Chappaquiddick reunited the “Boiler Room Girls” who had served on Robert Kennedy’s 1968 presidential campaign, among them Mary Jo (Kate Mara). Ted whisks Mary Jo away for a reckless moonlight drive that ends in tragedy.

But the more profound malfeasance begins after the drowning — itself dramatized here in harrowing detail — when a battalion of spin doctors gets to work on covering up the incident, using the Apollo 11 moon landing as a distraction.

 

CHAPPAQUIDDICK

Film Review: CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE (USA 2017) ***1/2

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captain underpantsTwo overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.

Director: David Soren
Writers: Nicholas Stoller (screenplay), Dav Pilkey (based on the epic novels by)
Stars: Kevin Hart, Thomas Middleditch, Ed Helms

Review by Gilbert Seah

 
once saw a skit of Superman and Batman at an unemployment office. Superman tells Batman that they will never get a job. Why Batman asks? Because no one would hire anyone who wears underpants over their clothes – was the answer. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS the animated movie takes the joke to another level. The hero only wears underpants!
This last collaboration between Dreamworks and 20th Century Fox (before Dreamworks moves with Universal) is fortunately a huge animated comic success. As the title of the film implies, the story involves lots of goofy absurdity and toilet jokes (there is even a symphony of body fluid noises performed on the school stage in the middle of the film), but who cares as CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS is a very funny movie, almost matching the best of the SHREK films. The comic song “I Love Saturdays” at the film’s stet sets up the mood of the film.

The film is based on the children’s novel series of the same name created in 1997 by Dav Pilkey, who sold the rights to Dreamworks in 2011. The plot follows two imaginative elementary school prankster students, George Beard and Harold Hutchins (Kevin Hart and Thomas Middleditch) who hypnotize using a hypnotic ring from a cereal box, their mean-spirited principal, Mr. Krupp (Ed Helms), into thinking he is Captain Underpants, a hero in comic books George and Harold write together. Mr. Krupp runs all over the place trying to what he thinks he is doing, saving the world. But the story includes a villain, Professor Poopypants (Nikc Kroll) (looking like the child catcher in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG), the new science teacher who wants to rid the wold of laughter. His assistant is one of George and Harold’s fellow students, a swatter and a rotter called Melvin (Jordan Peele) with an uncanny resemblance to minions in DESPICABLE ME. Yes, as in all animated films, the world needs to be saved – but always for a good cause – as the return of laughter in this story.

There is plenty of laughter in this film, thanks to the goofy antics of the animators, the smart script by Brit Nicholas Stoller and the comedic timing of director David Soren. Writer Stoller directed the very funny NEIGHBOURS, NEIGHBOURS II and FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL and Toronto-own Stoller had proven his animation mettle in TURBO (the animated on snails). Kevin Hart is funny voicing George but the surprise comes from Ed Helms who voices both the principal and Captain Underpants.

The animation is 3D computer animated, with the heads of the characters rounded, similar to THE PEANUTS MOVIE. The characters have a 3D rather than a two dimensional look.

Despite all the toilet humour, the film contains a decent message of genuinely doing good in the world.

There is a fine line between stupidity and goofiness. Animated films often have to tread this fine line between success and failure. CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS succeeds in this respect while another cent animated feature THE LEGO BATMAN failed because it was too manic and incomprehensible. It should be a worthwhile wait for CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE SECOND EPIC MOVIE

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VDm_2m-Hg6c
 

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