Today I’ve watched the weather. Today I’ve watched Twitter. Today I’ve watched emails come and go. Today I’ve also watched the trailer for this movie TAG three times. It’s Tuesday, there’s a snow storm slated to hit on the first day of spring. Nothing makes sense anymore.
The first time I watched it, I suppose I was curious about a movie with Jeremy Renner and Jon Hamm in it and oh look, that’s Jake Johnson and Hannibal Buress. Ed Helms is there too. Plus Isla Fisher and Rashida Jones. I like all of those people. Now what the hell was I watching again?
TAG is based on a real story. I’m serious. I looked it up because I didn’t believe the trailer when it said very clearly that it was “based on a true story.” You know who else said that, albeit worded differently? I, Tonya. So does each season of Fargo. Those people are liars basically. So I wanted to know if the people behind TAG were also no good, dirty liars.
They aren’t. No joke. The movie is in fact based on a true story, a story of nine dudes who started playing tag years ago and have gone on to continue playing for 23 years, right through college and straight into their adulthood. One of these guys went on to become the chief marketing officer for Nordstrom and early during his time there, he was very concerned about how easy it was or wasn’t for an outsider to get into their office. Why? Because one of his friends might barge in and tag him and then he’d be it, which is a perfectly normal concern for a grown man I guess.
So now this story of two decades worth of playing tag is a movie and it’s a movie with a pretty loaded cast. The idea of scenes between Buress and Johnson alone would be worth the price of admission. Also, the last time we saw Hamm and Renner in a movie together it was The Town and that was a pretty great movie. Not sure how that translates, but it has to account for something, right?
Now does the idea of a movie based on a group of grown man engaged in an endless game of tag seem like a stretch? Yeah, it definitely does. But hey, think of how long the genre of buddy comedies has been in existence. In the timeline of movies there was the now massively awkward pro-KKK movie, Charlie Chaplin movies, the first few gangster movies and then somewhere in the 1930’s there had to have been a movie about two friends getting themselves in a jam and spending the next hour or so trying to find a way out of it in wildly humorous ways.
Long story short, new and fresh ideas for buddy comedies are hard to come by. So why the hell not make a movie about a group of men playing tag with each other as a way to stay connected as they get older?
That last part is probably the direction the movie veers into as the movie heads into the third act. The game of tag is the hook, but the sentimentality is what will really rope you in. And I get that. It’s hard keeping up with friends as you get older, super hard once significant others and kids enter the mix. I’ve always looked at it this way: your life is a circle and at different times in your life, other people’s circles intersect with yours. That intersection is friendship or a relationship or a work acquaintance. As you grow older your circle expands but it’s still a circle, and other people have their own circle, which also grows or even shrinks. There will be times when you and a friend’s circle won’t interlock anymore. You’ll be existing in your own circles, circles that are no longer connected. These ingenious dudes have found a way to always keep their circles connecting, no matter how far their circles drift from each other. It puts being in a fantasy football league with your college friends to shame that’s for damn sure.
This desire to stay connected is why Renner’s character’s decision to retire from the game will mean so much. He’s not just bailing on the game, he’s essentially bailing on them and they know it, even though he might not. That’s how life works. You never really know the lasting effect of a decision until much later.
I’d have to assume that hearing about these grown ass dudes playing tag with each other for over twenty years would most likely garner some form of a reaction that could best be described as an dismissive eye roll. But the other reaction is the exact polar opposite, it’s a reaction of subtle envy. You either think these guys are straight up dorks or world class super heroes whose super power is the ability to sustain admirable long-lasting friendships. It’s kind of like that New York Times‘ article from a week or so ago, the one about the dude who disconnected from the world when Trump won. People read that and either wanted to slap him side the head or they want to be him. There really wasn’t any between. There never is when you strike a nerve like that.
As for the movie though, I don’t know. I don’t trust comedies anymore. Been burned too many times. The trailer looks good, I’ll give it that. And it definitely gets points for successfully taking my mind off this incoming snow storm and whatever the president has done today and the confirmed sketchy nature of Facebook and my busted March Madness bracket.
It also makes me want to give a holler to some old friends.
You made me emotional, trailer for the movie TAG, which is in fact based on a true story. I just didn’t see that coming.