These Legends Kept A Game Of Tag Going For Months & Now It’s A Movie
This game has been going for more than 30 years. Three-zero. Let that sink in.
Based on a true story. We're not kidding.
Some films are based on epic struggles between the forces of good and evil, while others are to do with the plight of superheroes and supervillains, real or imagined. Others still are totally transporting fantasies, taking viewers to far-off worlds.
And then there’s Tag – a film about a group of grown men playing a long-running game of, well, tag. Chasey. Tips. Whatever you wanna call it.
But before you start remembering tearing around the schoolyard with more energy in a single lunch hour than you’ve exhibited at work this year, know this: Tag isn’t about your average game of tips. This game has been going for more than thirty years.
Yep – 30. Three-zero. Let that sink in.
More incredibly still, Tag is based on a true story – you cannot make this stuff up. Actors Jon Hamm, Jeremy Renner (who went so hard during filming he legitimately broke both his arms), Jake Johnson, and Hannibal Buress each play middle-aged men in a group of friends keeping their childhood game of tag going with gusto. In the film, the game is on each and every May – whoever’s “it” when the clock ticks over to June remains so for the rest of the year, and is responsible for restarting the game the following year.
The aims of the game, naturally, are two-fold: the first is to avoid being tagged. AT ALL COSTS. Always be on your guard, because you never know where sneaky Jon Hamm will turn up. In the row behind you at the movies? Your dad’s funeral? Both, probably. Nothing is sacred.
The other aim pertains to whoever is “it”. If it’s you, be prepared to go the whole nine yards. Book international flights, stretch the boundaries of friendships and personal space, and enlist your significant other to help you plot. That clock is ticking.
In real life, the stakes are no lower. The group of 10 men started the game in the early 1980s, when they were in high school in Washington state. It’s been going ever since – and now it’s the inspiration for a feature film.
In an article for The Guardian, original group member Joe Tombari says “subterfuge and collusion” are the go-to methods these days, especially as they’re all a little older, wiser and less gullible.
“I was tagged spectacularly a few years back when a friend popped round to show me his new car,” Tombari writes. “As I approached it, Sean sprang out of the boot, where he’d been hiding, and tagged me. He’d flown 800 miles [1285km] from Seattle to San Francisco just to stop being ‘it’ – to shrug off the ‘mantle of shame’, as we call it.”
And no – we weren’t lying about parents’ funerals being outside the limits of acceptability in this game.
“Perhaps one of the most unexpected tags was during Mike’s father’s funeral,” Tombari writes. “During the service, he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to find Joe mouthing, ‘You’re it’. Afterwards, he said his father would have approved, because he found our game hilarious.”
As evidenced in the trailer, the film draws on actual moments in the game’s 30-plus-year history – including the surprise funeral tag – but weaves them into a fictional narrative that revolves around Renner’s character, Jerry, who’s never been “it.” Tag is the most ridiculous game of cat-and-mouse you’ve ever seen brought to the screen.
TAG, based on a true story. We’re not kidding. In cinemas June 14.