The Hippo


May 25, 2020








Incredibles 2

Tag (R)

Lifelong buddies continue a multi-decades-long game of tag into their 40s in Tag, a comedy that is perhaps more good-natured than funny.
Every May, Hoagie (Ed Helms), Bob (Jon Hamm), Chilli (Jake Johnson), Sable (Hannibal Buress) and Jerry (Jeremy Renner) play tag, specifically one game of tag that has been going since their childhood. Though they’re grown men who live in different cities and have families and jobs, they drop everything and use vacation days to travel to tag each other. Hoagie’s wife, Anna (Isla Fisher), plays along, though  she can’t tag or be tagged herself because she is not part of the core group and, as a girl, not allowed in the game anyway, based on the laws crafted by the boys back in the girls-have-cooties day. Jerry is the reigning champion of the game, having never been tagged.
How far will the men go to score a “tag”? Hoagie, a successful veterinarian, gets a job as a janitor at Bob’s company so he can sneak into a conference room and tag him when he least suspects. Though Bob is in the middle of an interview with Wall Street Journal reporter/audience surrogate Rebecca (Annabelle Wallis) he accepts the tag and even agrees to join in Hoagie’s quest to make this the year they finally tag Jerry. It has to be this year or never, Hoagie explains, because Jerry is marrying Susan (Leslie Bibb) and retiring from the game. Rebecca, deciding this insane story is better than a CEO profile, comes along as the guys round up Sable and Chilli (who is out of work, recently divorced and getting high with his dad).
Oddly, what I enjoyed most about this movie was its total lack of stakes. There is really nothing urgent about the tag mission; it is, as Anna describes, the players’ weird fun hobby that is both very important to them but not beyond rational understanding. 
The guys themselves are also fairly stakes-free personalities. Bob, Hoagie, Sable and Jerry are fine — grown adults who are basically living an adult life. Chilli has hit bottom and knows it and that seems like it’s fine too. Like, life has ups and downs and this is his down but he is aware enough of it that he will likely be able to climb his way back.
It’s almost worth the B-minus effort comedy to just be in such an anxiety-free space. Sure, the movie could be funnier, but it would probably need to have stakes and problems and complex personalities for that and the movie isn’t interested in being that. To the extent that the movie works, it does so thanks in large part to the talent — the goofiness of Helms, the against-handsomeness-type of Hamm, the loser charm of Johnson, the straight-man nervousness of Buress and the vague menace of Renner. I suppose it’s some kind of credit to the writing that it knew how to use these qualities. Just maybe not full credit.
Tag is funny enough if “funny enough” is all you need to enjoy a comedy with this line-up. B-
Rated R for language throughout, crude sexual content, drug use and brief nudity. Directed by Jeff Tomsic with a screenplay by Rob McKittrick and Mark Steilen, Tag is an hour and 40 minutes long and distributed by New Line Cinema. 

Incredibles 2
Film reviews by Amy Diaz


The Parr family of supers return after 14 of our years but just weeks for them in Incredibles 2, a Cars 2-ish sequel to the 2004 animated film.
The Incredibles is definitely in my top five of Pixar films. I remember at the time thinking it wasn’t just a great superhero movie (I’ve heard many critics argue since that it’s the best ever and I definitely think there is a solid argument to be made) but a solid movie about marriage and family. It is one of the gold standard examples of how Pixar is able to work in really smart emotional beats with fantastical kid-accessible stories and on-point visuals. Incredibles 2 more drafts off that goodwill than builds on it.
More or less exactly where we left them, Bob Parr/Mr. Incredible (voice of Craig T. Nelson) and Helen Parr/Elastigirl (voice of Holly Hunter) and their kids, teenage Violet (voice of Sarah Vowell), speedy elementary-school-ish-aged Dash (voice of Huck Milner) and baby Jack-Jack (voice of Eli Fucile) are living in a hotel, their house having been destroyed in the first movie. Though superheroing is still illegal, the Edna Mode (voice by Brad Bird)-outfitted family is trying to return to their calling, along with fellow super Lucius Best/Frozone (voice of Samuel L. Jackson). But a tussle with the Underminer (voice by John Ratzenberger) — and the Man of Steel-like level of collateral damage — doesn’t have the world clamouring for supers’ return.
Winston Deavor (voice of Bob Odenkirk) wants to change all that. A billionaire telcom CEO, Winston is a longtime fan of supers. He has a plan to get them back in the spotlight and back in society’s good graces. He thinks Elastigirl is the best bet for winning over the public. He hires her — a job that comes with use of a swanky new house for the family — to fight crime wearing a bodycam to help the public ride along with and appreciate the difficulty of her work.
To make this mission work, Elastigirl heads to the city, which means that Bob will have to hold down the homefront. Not only does Bob visibly chafe at not being in the spotlight, he is not thrilled at being the main child caregiver, especially with Violet dealing with her first date, Jack-Jack’s increasingly dramatic powers manifesting themselves and Dash facing that greatest and most mystifying of horrors: modern elementary school math. As a frustrated Mr. Incredible complains, why would they change math?
I get what the movie is trying to do with Bob’s learning how to take care of his family and deal with his wife getting her moment in the spotlight but it is not great the way the movie does this. It has a very “cheap Father’s Day card” feel to the jokiness and Bob’s arc (Bob is really the only one who gets an arc) is fairly shallow. The Incredibles was so smart about relationships — parent and child, married couple, worker and soulless corporation employing them — but, while this sequel aims at something similar, for me it rather definitively missed the mark.
You know how when you haven’t seen someone for a while, someone you like and enjoy spending time with, and you’re eager to recapture the sparkle of your last meeting and you end up talking too loud, too fast and like an octave higher than you normally do? That is how this movie feels to me. Characters come off as shriller versions of the characters I remembered, less multi-dimensional, more one thing: Violet is complainy, Dash is a troublemaker, Bob is a giant sour grape.
There are interesting ideas in this movie — the idea of rebuilding public trust in supers, the idea of a married couple learning to take on new roles, a new group of supers who have grown up in the shadows learning to act in public. But for me the movie never pulls these things together into an organic story that is both cartoon and superhero fun and has a meaningful core. I agree with the criticism I’ve seen that this movie is loud, not just volume loud but has the feel of loudness, of holding my attention by shouting at me rather than drawing me in with story and characters.
Perhaps most disappointing for me is that this is not, ultimately, a movie I plan to take my kid to. It feels dark in moments where the darkness doesn’t really add to the story, talky (or, really, shouty) in a way that could lose a younger kid’s interest and not nearly light or fun enough.
Incredibles 2 has moments that remind you why you liked the first movie but it doesn’t build on this universe or these characters. B-
Rated PG for action sequences and some brief mild language, according to the MPAA. Written and directed by Brad Bird, Incredibles 2 is an hour and 58 minutes long and distributed by Walt Disney Studios. 

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu