Everyone played tag growing up. It’s a fun game, but few could take it to the level of a group of friends who have played the game for over 30 years. It’s a wildly exciting true story published by the Wall Street Journal in 2013. The older we get, the more difficult it becomes to connect with your best friends. So taking this story of friends reconnecting and keeping the childlike fun alive and turning it into a comedy with an all-star cast is a recipe for a fun ride.
Every May since they were kids, five guys get together and play tag. It doesn’t matter that they live in different states and have careers and lives of their own, the game will still be played. But one skilled player, Jerry (Jeremy Renner), has never been tagged. With his wedding approaching, his friends Hoagie (Ed Helms), Bob (Jon Hamm), Chilli (Jake Johnson), and Sable (Hannibal Burress) team up to finally tag him. With Hoagie’s super competitive wife (Isla Fisher) and a Wall Street Journalist (Annabelle Wallis) along for the ride, the guys scheme out a plan to end Jerry’s perfect streak.
Tag moves at a sometimes uneven, often unbelievable, but pleasantly quirky pace. It takes a while for the cast to find their chemistry, but once they get their footing, everything works. Each character has individual moments that will make you chuckle, especially Hannibal Burress and Isla Fisher. The movie is at its best when it isn’t cramming unnecessary subplots, like a love triangle between Hamm’s Bob, Johnson’s Chilli, and an old flame played by Rashida Jones.
The nuance of the cat and mouse nature of the movie is nice. And there are plenty of funny moments, which is one of the most important things for a comedy, but that isn’t what makes Tag memorable. Once the climax roles around, the film finally hammers home its emotional core. The final scene is a wonderfully heartfelt ode to friendship that makes every weak moment in the movie evaporate amidst the pure joy that everyone onscreen is having.
FINAL GRADE: B
Welcome to the age of cinematic universes. Marvel did it. DC is doing it. Even Lego has one going. And now Universal is trying to cash in on the action by using their old monster movies. The Brendan Frasier Mummy movies weren’t the greatest, but there is a fun 90’s camp feel to them that makes them enjoyable. Looking to launch their interconnected Dark Universe, The Mummy tosses Tom Cruise into the fold to reboot the series.
Cruise stars as US soldier, Nick Morton, who scrambles around the middle east with his friend and fellow soldier (Jake Johnson) recovering artifacts from insurgents to sell on the black market. After stealing a map from an archaeologist (Annabelle Wallis), he inadvertently releases Princess Ahmanet, (Sofia Boutella), an evil mummy who wants to turn him into the god of death and unleash hell on earth. Oh yeah… and Russell Crowe plays Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde ‘cause cinematic universe and stuff.
The movie certainly earns points for some solid special effects and a few successful jump scares, but it’s hard to ignore how out of place everything is. Tom Cruise has never been one for slapstick humor, and this movie is full of zany jokes that would work best if Brendan Frasier were the one leading the charge. Instead, this movie switches between horror and campy action adventure, never truly settling on a correct tone and fading into a failed attempt to be what it thinks audiences want to see in a summer blockbuster.
Cruise is also not the only one out of his element. Russell Crowe is useless, to both the plot and as a casting choice and Annabelle Wallis’ Dr. Halsey is dull and unoriginal. And if the meandering story and unnecessary easter eggs don’t make it completely obvious that this movie is designed to set up spinoffs and sequels, the somewhat inexplicable ending does its best to shove that concept as far down your throat as possible. There are worse films to watch, even in the Mummy franchise (Scorpion King anyone?), but this Mummy reboot is just a soulless attempt to cash in on the hottest Hollywood trend without actually doing anything to make you care about any of it.
FINAL GRADE: D
I chose the title to kill the suspense on this one. Saw two movies recently that were so forgettable that I didn’t care to post about them. Alas… I had people ask me my thoughts on them, so I suppose I should be fair to the other lousy films I’ve seen this year, and share.
Into The Storm
Instead of calling this movie Into the Storm, they should’ve called it “Into the lives of stock characters who ignore the weather channel”. For all of the thrills and spectacular moments advertised by the trailer, this movie is incredibly boring. It spends the entire first half introducing you to people you mostly don’t care about, who are going through things that you see in almost every disaster movie (Single father trying to reconnect with his son, money hungry jerk willing to risk the lives of his team for fame, parent trying to get back to their young child, etc.) If these types of characters and situations don’t sound familiar, it’s probably because you don’t watch enough movies.
Weak characters would be forgiven if we were actually given a movie where the action and adventure dominates the story. But that is not remotely the case in Into the Storm. Many of the adverse situations stem from pure stupidity; Why not cancel a graduation ceremony after you’ve just watched a severe storm warning on the News? Why do you need to film a flaming vortex from a few feet away with a heavy duty camera with professional zoom? There are even two moronic characters who run on foot to take pictures of the storms so they can get famous on Youtube. The only saving grace from this movie is that once the actual superstorm hits, the visuals are thrilling and the action is suspenseful. But none of that happens until the last 15 minutes. So you’re better off just ignoring the whole thing. Trust me, it isn’t worth it. FINAL GRADE: D
Let’ s Be Cops
A movie about two friends who pull pranks dressed as policeman is a fairly funny premise. Too bad Let’s Be Cops has a not so funny script. I am a fan of the Fox sitcom New Girl, which is where the film’s stars, Jake Johnson and Damon Wayans Jr., honed their chops as a comedic duo. So, I know that the two can be funny. But despite their chemistry, the humor falls flat more times than not. It might be because the movie tries to take itself too seriously with a plot driven by a killer gangster and illegal weapons trafficking. Old police comedies like Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop series had serious cop action and drama, but the humor in those movies was driven by the quips of the lead actor, not by zany, unrealistic antics like this film.
There are a few funny parts. Then again, most comedies have a few chuckles to pull you in from the trailer. But, like with Sex Tape and Tammy, you have to have either a worthy story or a ton of humorous, unadvertised moments, for a comedy to resonate after the credits have rolled. Let’s Be Cops doesn’t really have either. FINAL GRADE: C-