“Worst. Movie. Idea. Ever” read the email’s subject line. The message consisted only of a link to the trailer for the new comedy flick Tag. The disgust felt by my pal obviously prevented him from elaborating further.
I was hesitant to click the link. I operate a strict “No Trailer” policy, as he well knows, and only ever watch them when my job requires it. And even then, it’s usually under duress.
But he’d made such a big call that I felt compelled to grant an exception. I clicked the link.
After watching for about 40 seconds, and well before the trailer reached its 02:32 conclusion, I clicked stop and composed my reply.
“Best. Movie. Idea. Ever.” I wrote. Then I added a chirpy and excessively punctuated, “So LOL! Can’t wait!” and clicked send. His reply to that email? Unprintable.
I would never admit this to him, but here now, just between us friends, I’m comfortable in conceding that, yes, the idea for Tag is stupid.
It’s not the worst idea ever – that shameful crown still worn by The Emoji Movie – but it is kinda dumb. It’s about a group of pals who have been playing the same game of tag – or tiggy as the game’s called in our playgrounds – since they were kids.
In all those decades one of the gang has never, ever, been “It”. He is considered “untaggable”. With a permanent end to the game looming, the movie follows the increasingly elaborate and desperate attempts by the others to finally tag him.
So yeah, it is kind of a dumb idea. But, as a counterpoint, it’s also kind of a brilliant one.
Despite holding qualifications to a Year 12 level I’m a relatively simple sort of fellow and I like relatively simple things. Tag ticks a lot of my movie-related boxes making it the exact sort of movie I love. An uncomplicated comedy that’s easy to watch, mostly funny and short.
That last one is particularly important to me. Even though cinemas have ramped up their seating game considerably in the past five years, I still don’t really want to be sitting in movies for three hours.
I’m always happy to see a running time that barely scrapes past the 90-minute mark but that’s increasingly rare these days. So many movies tend to breeze right on past the two-hour mark and then just keep going from there.
That is needlessly long. Few justify such bloated running times. If a film’s on par with something like The Godfather or whatever, then okay, fair enough, take your time. But if it’s just about another person in a silly costume saving the world, then 100 minutes is ample to get that story told.
For example, if Commando, one of cinema’s greatest action movies, can hit bang on 90 minutes there’s absolutely no rationalisation as to why Marvel’s upcoming superhero sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp needs to run a whopping 125 minutes. Is it going to be 35 minutes better than Commando? No chance.
The other thing that endeared me to Tag was that it wasn’t a prequel or a sequel or a reboot or a reimagining. It wasn’t working overtime to set up “the Tag cinematic universe”. It wasn’t based on a comic or a graphic novel and it wasn’t dark and gritty or any of those other things that ensures movies top the box office charts.
It was just grown men cracking gags and chasing each other around in big mock-action setpieces while an absolutely cracking soundtrack of 90s hip-hop and alternative hits played in the background.
The movie’s not destined to be a classic. It’s not going to trouble critics’ “Best of the year” lists or win any awards. Reviews will be average to middling. I give it two weeks in cinemas and then it will slink off screens to be largely forgotten. This will likely be the only think piece it inspires.
But comedies generally get a raw deal from critics. Especially silly and relatively low-budget ones like this. But I like them. There’s no expectations other than providing a few laughs. There’s no fandoms to appease and nothing to think about.
Just 90 minutes and change of blissful empty distraction away from the increasingly worrisome state of the world. I might even go again.