ComingSoon.net visits the Tag set!
Some friends get together over a sporting event, some for drinks, and others spend time together every year by playing the most competitive game of tag that you’ve ever seen. This isn’t something purely invented for the upcoming comedy film from Warner Bros. either – it’s true, it really happened. A real group of adults play competitive tag together every year and things got intense. The Wall Street Journal did a profile on them. ESPN did a segment on them for SportsCenter. Now they’re getting a feature film with fan-favorite comedians like Ed Helms, Jon Hamm, Hannibal Buress, Jake Johnson, Isla Fisher, and even an Avenger, Jeremy Renner.
Jon Hamm explains the kickstart of the film: “The inciting event, he’s being interviewed by this Wall Street Journal reporter — played by Annabelle Wallis — and this crazy thing happens, where Ed Helms runs into a board meeting and chases around the table. The person was like, ‘You want to explain what just happened there because that’s really weird.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, I play tag with some friends of mine.’ For one one month of the year since we were nine. And the guy’s like, ‘Yeah, that’s not normal.'”
Again, that part is real, this happened.
“A lot of the tags are based on real tags that they actually did because the truth of this game is often so much weirder than fiction,” producer Todd Garner says. “There was a guy who went quite a while without being tagged. He was the inspiration for the Jeremy Renner character of a guy who’d never been tagged… There’s been tags at births, funerals, inceptions of kids, for real. One guy was tagged when his wife was going to chemo. It really just is… it seems awful, but it really just is an excuse for them to come together. So he was in the hospital with his wife, and they came to be around him and support him, and they tagged him. And one guy was tagged at his dad’s funeral.”
Helms character, Hoagie, is the glue keeping the game together. The self-described cheerleader of the game of Tag who wants to keep the whole game going and keep it fun for all of his friends. There is a wrinkle though, Jeremy Renner’s character, the elusive Jerry, who has miraculously never been tagged in all the years they’ve played, is retiring from the game. This is their final chance to tag him. So he assembles his crew and heads back to Spokane, Washington, where Jerry is getting married and will be vulnerable.
The scene we saw being filmed was Helms (Hoagie), Hamm (Callahan), and Jack Johnson (Chill) all waiting inside the closet in a therapist’s office. Their friend Sable, played by Hannibal Burress, is due for an appointment and they’re going to surprise him. When they hear confessions from their friend though, they tap out of the closet and make their exit.
“My character Sable is pretty much me… but his name is Sable,” Buress says in his trademark deadpan delivery. “I’m not doing Daniel Day Lewis sh*t over here, it’s really just saying words. I mean he’s neurotic and he’s just a neurotic overthinking type of person that sounds a lot like Hannibal Buress.”
There is one difference in Buress and Sable, his character is apparently the worst at the game, while Buress himself is probably the most athletic of the group, save for the former Bourne product and Avenger.
The competitive nature of the game of tag itself isn’t the only thing the characters compete with, Hamm’s Callahan and Johnson’s Chill also have their eyes set on a former high school crush, played by Rashida Jones. As the group descends on Spokane, the two compete in tag and for her heart, despite the fact that she’s a recent widow.
“She also grew up with us, we all grew up friends,” Johnson says. “And her character is someone who got married and her husband passed away, so this is the first time my character is seeing her since then… Yeah, my character is really excited that he’s dead too.”
In case it wasn’t clear, Tag may be about a children’s game, but it’s not for the whole family to enjoy on movie night.
“There is no chance this isn’t R,” producer Todd Garner says. “When you’re making a movie about forty-year-old men, if you try to go for kids too, you’re just, I think you’re going to make a movie for nobody… To go for like a family movie, just felt disingenuous. And felt like you’d water it down and the people that it is made for wouldn’t feel it was authentic. So making this movie for anybody who has enough wisdom and years on their, under their belt, that feel nostalgia for those people that they kinda haven’t connected with in a while.”
Tag debuts in theaters on June 15.