Is The Game Over? Tagging You Into This Review

Tag Poster

            Childhood games and traditions may seem silly, but with them comes a pact that helps solidify the friendships that start with them. Based on true events, today’s review is based on events of a group of guys who played Tag for almost three decades and the craziness that came with it. Another comedy arrives this weekend and yours truly is here to help get your movie going experience on, or not depending on the movie.  Let’s gets started as I review:

 

Movie: Tag (2018)

 

Director:

Jeff Tomsic

Writers:

Rob McKittrick (screenplay by),  Mark Steilen (screenplay by)

Stars:

Jeremy Renner,  Ed Helms,  Jake Johnson

 

LIKES:

Good Pace: A movie about a childhood game requires a good pace to capture that energy and Tag succeeds in securing this.  The movie constantly keeps the gang on their toes, as the crew makes attempts to discover the whereabouts of Jerry (Jeremy Renner) and then execute their plans.  Most of the scenes are high adrenaline bouts of running, with obstacles courses, clever dodges, and a few other moves.  It keeps up the fun of the movie and does little to venture off the course of bringing you back into your youth.

 

Surprisingly Deep: While it is a comedy, Tag somehow manages to take a break away from the silliness by getting into the character stories. As a balance between fun and depth, the movie does a unique job presenting the background history, by using the temporarily lapses in the excitement to interview the crew.  Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) is an interviewer who gets dragged into the adventure, and to further understand the trend, asks the group how things evolved.  Through this story, the characters evolve, and the relationship dives into something much more emotionally charged than I ever expected.

 

Funny:  Is the comedy funny?  Yes it is, and the movie does a nice job of broadening the comedic styles across the board to not only help each character stand out, but keep the comedy fresh and fun.  I myself enjoyed the physical comedy of the group, which felt like a more ridiculous version of Home Alone’s stunts.  In addition, Hannibal Buressdry, monotone delivery was perfect to offset all the yelling, high drug and angry comedy that the rest brought.  Matched with the energy of the movie, the comedy helped rejuvenate the youthful energy of the movie and keep everything fun to watch.

 

Good Balance of Characters: My concerns for actors getting underutilized was misplaced for once, and Tag was able to keep everyone practically involved in the adventure.  Much of this has to do with the presentation of backstory and modern-day planning, but everyone who gets pulled into the game stays in the game… in a nonthreatening manner that is. And thanks to the blend of comedy styles, every character is very well utilized to further expand the game at hand.

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Crosses the line sometimes: Some of the styles in this movie are very dark and mature. It’s these elements that sometimes cross way over the line, jumping into topics that aren’t worth joking about.  Super competitive people will relish in the tactics used to win, but for me, the writers sometimes went a little too far in impeding the sanctity of things that needed to be impeded on.

 

Sexual Innuendo Banter: Innuendos are a great device when deployed sparingly and timed right.  Tag accomplishes this goal well, but there are a few moments where the aggressive comedy diverges from the path to just stuff more sexual antics into the mix. One of these times was completely unnecessary, a lead that was doomed to fail and could have been edited out. When the banter about this stuff continues to occur, it got old due to how irrelevant it needed.

 

Over the Top At Times: The whole movie is over the top, I get that, but sometimes it flew sky high into the childish and moronic territories. The game of tag has a lot of stakes to winning, and when competitiveness gets in the way, the adrenaline rush causes one to do stupid things. However, this movie takes it a little too far, leading to yes amusing antics at times, but other times very destructive habits that again crossed a line not only into illegal areas, but stupid territory again.

 

Isla Fisher’s Character: This has nothing to do with the actress herself, but the direction they took her in.  Anna is a firecracker to say it nicely, but the direction had her a little too obnoxious and bipolar for my liking.  At times it came off well, but other times it was just annoying to see her aggressively yell, curse, or sometimes strike a person for no reason. It never got any better for me, and some of my fellow movie goers agreed that her character may have been the weakest link of the group.  Still, you want that firecracker wild woman, you are in the right area.

 

 

The Verdict:

 

            Tag is a movie that doesn’t sell you short on the simplistic, fun, youthful adventure that it is.  It’s a ridiculous, over the top comedy that is incredibly entertaining and should keep you in the film for the entire ride.  With a great ensemble and multiple styles integrated together, one should find a few laughs held in the confines of this game.  Despite the surprising depth to the movie, the ridiculous antics, cursing/dirty comedy still cross the line and Fisher’s character didn’t help to maintain the balance they would have strived for.  Still, the movie succeeds in recapturing the spirit of youth, and is worth a trip to the theater as a group or date movie.  If you can’t catch that together, then save your money for the rental service and wait for next week’s flick.

 

My scores:

 

Comedy: 8.0

Movie Overall: 6.5

 

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Like a Bad Dad Jokes, This Movie Is Stale From The Start

Father Figures

Father’s, a staple in many families to teach wise lessons, take care of booboos, and hopefully impart some wisdom and love in their families.  Unfortunately, many Hollywood film fathers fall on the opposite side, portrayed as selfish losers, who flee when that woman announces a bun in the oven.  If they stick around, well they don’t often shine in the brightest light.  And it is this trend that has provided kindling for my movie review tonight to rise from.  Father Figures starring Ed Helms and Owen Wilson released this weekend, in hopes of providing the comedy spirit of the season amidst all the other released.  What lies in store?  As always read on to find out.

 

LIKES:

 

-Consistent Pace:  Most movies can be enjoyed, or at least less annoying, when the pace is consistent and moves to minimize unimportant tangents.  Father Figures is one of those movies that does a bang up job keeping the plot moving, going from point A to point Z in a linear fashion with few side trips.  As such, the film remains entertaining, given the limited comedic strategy involved in this film.

 

-The Ending:  Perhaps one of the few twists I didn’t predict all the way through, the ending is a great finale to salvage some parts of the film. After all of the silly, unemotional sequences in the film, the ending scenes really bring things into a feeling rich brilliance that sort of seals the deal on all the relationships.  Cheesy?  Absolutely, but the editing, the score, and the acting all mesh together to bring the journey to a very satisfying end that might be a little bit of a tear jerker in this desert of drab humor.

 

Katt Williams By far my favorite aspect of the movie is Katt Williams as the Hitchhiker. The trailers only highlight the comedy this character brings to the screen.  His timing is better than the two leading characters, with a delivery that comes out more naturally and fluid to maximize the laughs. In addition, the directors managed to develop a new comedy scheme for him, using him as a volunteer psychiatrist who somehow seemed to have all the answers, but be awkward about it.  They didn’t abuse his character, which perhaps resulted in why he was my favorite part of this movie. 

 

 

DISLIKES:

 

Predictable:  Let’s start out with a minor dislike and work our way up.  Father Figures’ comedy is dependent on two things:  Your love vulgar comedy lines and trying to make it relate to the story.  Unfortunately for the second factor, the story is very predictable and with it the comedy is also predictable as well.  You’ll see both jokes and plot twists a mile away, leading to a rather mundane holiday comedy that has nothing to do with the holiday spirit.  And despite all the opportunities for twists to the adventure, the movie failed to act upon the potential, instead choosing for shallow comedy shout outs.

 

Lazy Writing: I’m all about a good stupid laugh or two, but many know how much I hate for curse laden dialogue with little point.  Certainly not the worst of the offenders, Father Figures relied too heavily on the cursing to do the heavy lifting.  A good F bomb or two can get the emotion of the scene wrapped up, but the constant use soon becomes a space filling ploy with little else being accomplished.  In addition, much of the writing is repetitive, not necessarily like a good running joke, but the fact that the same lines that keep coming up over and over again.  

 

Victim of Trailers:  My friend Tim subscribes to the thought of avoiding trailers to avoid ruining the movie.  That’s a good philosophy for this film, because even seeing one trailer spoils a lot of this movie in more ways than one Father Figures fails to deviate from its advertising in a good way, and depending on how many times you have seen the trailers, determines how stale the jokes are going in.  My theater didn’t laugh much in this film, and a few stated this is because they had seen it on the trailers already.  In fact, most of the deviations from the trailer came in the form of scene deletions and/or alterations in lines to be more R rated.  I don’t know if they were that desperate to decrease the run time, or if the scenes didn’t fit into the grand scheme, but nevertheless, those differences did not help the movie.

 

 

The VERDICT: 

 

If you thought Father Figures looked bad from the trailers, you weren’t too far from the truth to be honest.  The movie has little in terms of unique comedy/plots and is merely a holiday pass over for those not looking to watch half of the other things releasing this week.  Katt Williams and an emotional ending cannot save this film in terms from mediocre jokes, predictable plots, and stale comedy via the trailers. While it gets points for cuteness, the movie is not really worth the trip to the theater and is best saved for a RedBox rental or if you have cable a television premier on TBS.  

 

My scores are:

 

Comedy:  5.5

Movie Overall: 4.0

 

Training Pants Off, Underpants On…For Kid Focused Comedy

underpants

 

Superheroes seem to be the theme of this weekend at the movie theater.  For those not interested in the Amazon princess’ tale another caped crusader awaits in the hallowed halls of the silver screen.  No, it isn’t Batman, but instead a more childish hero to fight ridiculous antagonists.  And tonight, my review is on the waistband warrior himself… Captain Underpants and his first feature film.  Based on the hit children’s comic book/novel series, the latest kid’s movie is here to try and bring the laughs contained in its pages.  Did it succeed?  Robbie K here to help answer that question, so let’s get started, shall we?

 

LIKES:

 

  1. Cute Factor: We all know kid movies can vary like the flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream. Captain Underpants is along the cute variety, filled with that fun, G rated goodness reminiscent of the Peanuts Movie. The trailers are accurate in stating there is a great moral lesson about friendship, one that just may touch your heart and call up your best friend.  If the sappy parts don’t make you say awwwwww, the sound of your child laughing certainly will.

 

  1. Nostalgia: If you read the books, or co read with your young one, then good news, the movie captures the spirit of the series. Watching Harold and George trying to control their gallivanting hero is sure to bring a flood of memories back at the adventures in the book.  In addition, you’ll find ridiculous villains, potty based humor, and even Flip-o-rama all integrated in the short run time of the movie. Ahh, the power of reliving your childhood is a strong thing indeed.

 

  1. Voice Acting: No academy award worthy performances in this movie, but the voice acting fits well with the ludicrous tone of this movie. Kevin Hart’s high pitched voice fits so well with the character of George, primarily the obnoxious laughter I pictured the character having. Thomas Middleditch helped compliment his co-actor in his wispy voice. Ed Helms was a toss-up for me.  I didn’t find his portrayal of Mr. Krupp the same tone as my imagination, but he certainly nailed the boisterous, whimsical tone of the superhero nimrod. And finally Nick Kroll certainly has the over exaggerated accent down pat, and made for an entertaining antagonist at times.

 

  1. The Art Style: DreamWorks animation nailed the media for this movie for me. Bright colors, dazzling lights, and a trippy spin were exactly what I expected for the Captain Underpants universe.  This film “flips” between animated panels of a child’s drawing to the 3-D cartoon CGI image and it works to capture that kid friendly energy and nostalgic blast to the past. And as there aren’t too many kid’s movies using this style yet, so the uniqueness is always appreciated.

 

DISLIKES:

 

  1. Very Kiddy: The trailers warned us about this, and even the comic books did as well, but Captain Underpants lacks the adult factor many cartoons hold. Much of this movie is simplistic potty humor, incessant laughing, and mindless bantering that may hold little humor to those above the age of 12. And to be honest, much of the movie loses its comedic spin within the first third of the movie. A little more wit could have gone a long way to save this movie from getting stale.

 

  1. No solid story: Masterpieces from Pixar and Walt Disney studios have a blend of humor, character development, and story. In Captain Underpants… that is sadly not the case.  The spirit of adventure is missing in this film, diluting the suspense aspect of the film to stuff more bathroom humor in the mix. And without a solid story to base the humor upon, it feels kind of like a failed stand-up comedy routine than a theater worthy film.

 

  1. Lacking Emotional Kick: While the movie does portray the power of friendship well, it still lacks that the emotional slam dunk that others have perfected. Captain Underpants doesn’t have much tug to the heartstrings and while you can laugh with the two of them, you can’t really connect to the characters at hand. Without that investment, it makes it that more difficult to invest in the movie. Therefore, I was bored for much of the movie, jealous that the younger audience could relate to the fart humor more than I could.

 

  1. Over exaggerated Voice Acting: Yes, we know the characters are all supposed to be overdramatic spoofs meant to tickle the funny bone.  Doesn’t mean they had to go over the top on the voices ALL THE TIME. Much of the voice work eventually drops into the annoying zone and for some characters very quickly (how many Tra-La-Las did we really need to hear?). Without the clever writing to back it up, not even this star-studded cast can save the eye rolling, or teeth grinding moments contained in this film.

 

The VERDICT

 

Captain Underpants is a different spin on the superhero genre, and one that is very welcoming to the younger generations.  With a very focused comedy towards its demographic, parents aren’t going to find much gold to this movie outside the art style and the melody of children laughing. Despite the nostalgic run it brought, there is not much to this film to make it theater worthy (unless you need a 90-minute tranquilizer for your kids). Therefore, I recommend this one be saved for Netflix or Redbox instead of the theater.

 

Animation/Action/Comedy:  6.0

Movie Overall: 5.0