Warning: spoilers ahead for Tag! Read ahead at your own risk!
Buddy comedies generally tend to keep things light-hearted in nature, which is why Tag feels so different from what we've seen before. The film takes a couple of notably dark turns in its story, with one scene focusing on a potential miscarriage and another revealing that Ed Helms' Hoagie has cancer. I recently talked to Tag star Jake Johnson about these scenes during the Tag press day in Los Angeles, and the New Girl star explained that these scenes concerned him because of the need to balance the tone. Johnson explained:
It was, 'We better do this right, or we're going to get laughed out of the theaters.' But it was that scene, and it was the miscarriage scene, I said, 'We need to have options on these, and you need to test them, because of they don't work the movie does not work at all.' So it was the two sequences I was nervous about, and we shot those a lot, had a lot of different options so that in post-production they could edit it how they wanted and so, in the end, I think they work.
Comedy is all about pushing the envelope, but Tag goes pretty far with those two scenes, and the daring nature of the comedy was not lost on the cast. Jake Johnson was initially concerned over how the audience would respond to the sequences, so he made sure to explain that the cast and crew needed options and different types of takes so they could adjust the tone if necessary. It sounds exhausting, but Johnson thinks that it was the best way to make those scenes work in the end.
Technically speaking, these "options" involved filming the scenes extensively from a wide variety of angles. By doing this, director Jeff Tomsic could create a higher degree of flexibility and adjust the style of the scenes on a dime. For example, if things got too dark in a particular version of the scene, they could go back into their raw footage and pick out reaction shots from any other member of the cast, or lines from different versions of the sequence to add in and lighten things up.
Take a look at the following clip from our chat with Jake Johnson during the Tag press day to hear what else he had to say about the controversial sequences in the comedy and how they created options to make those scenes work.
Tag is currently in theaters. Make sure to check it out to see all of the glorious buddy comedy antics for yourself, and take a look at CinemaBlend's full review of the film (not to mention our comprehensive review roundup) to get a better sense of the critical consensus surrounding the movie! Beyond that, check out our 2018 movie premiere guide to see what else is coming this year!