A buddy comedy for the ages.
Streaming on HBO | 2018 | R | 1h 42m
Genre: Buddy Film, Comedy
Why We Watched: I gushed about Tag in the "You might also like" section of my CHIPS newsletter a while back. I rewatched recently when a friend came over for a movie night, and I decided this one thoroughly deserves its own letter!
You Might Also Like: Along with CHIPS, Game Night is another delightful buddy comedy. Both are perfect options for a weekend movie night with friends!
My high school reunion was two weeks ago, and I couldn't go. In some ways, I was relieved. It's a daunting prospect to revisit people, places, and memories you haven't encountered for a decade, right? But seeing the pictures on Facebook of my old classmates getting together has me reflecting on other past relationships. There are a lot of people I went to school with all the way from kindergarten through graduation (#smalltownlife), but there are so many now-adults who I haven't seen since the late '90s when we played as little kids! I feel nostalgia for people whose faces I can't remember anymore, and for my younger self who played capture the flag, and sharks and minnows, and two-hand-touch football—and yes, tag.
Tag is the perfect flick for these feels. Based on a true story, it follows a group of childhood friends who, now in their forties, have found a genius way to stay in each other's lives. Every May, they take a pause from the grown-up stuff they're dealing with, like divorce, unemployment, depression, and cancer, to play an epic game of no-holds-barred tag. They sneak up on each other at work, at home, during funerals, in the middle of therapy sessions. For the entire month, nothing is off-limits. It's silly and over the top and kinda juvenile, but hey, it's kept them all together. Well, almost all of them...
One of their crew stands apart. Jerry (Jeremy Renner) has never, ever, in decades of playing, been tagged. He plays the game like it's a Special Forces training exercise, pulling totally crazy stunts to avoid being "it." He's like a tag ninja! (The others? Well they're just normal dudes, doing normal grown-up-tag things, like donning fake mustaches, hiding in closets, and chasing each other through the streets.) Hoagie (Ed Helms) is determined that this year will be different. This will be the year that they tag Jerry. It has to be. He sneaks up on the old gang one-by-one—Callahan (Jon Hamm), Sable (Hannibal Buress), and Chilli (Jake Johnson)—and rallies the troops by telling them that Jerry is going to quit the game this year.
Oh yeah, and he's getting married, and he didn't invite any of them to their wedding. The friends are a little miffed... until it occurs to them that a wedding ceremony is a perfect opportunity to tag the groom.
The movie is hilarious, original, and sweet, and it works so well in part because the cast is so recognizable. They're all comedic actors that we've been watching for a long time now. They're aging, and we've watched them do it. So their characters' longing to stay playful and to stay relevant in each other's lives is something that strikes me as especially poignant.
Maybe the best part of Tag is the real-life footage of the real-life friends before the credits roll. It's easy to watch the movie and assume the real story is being exaggerated, but some of the footage exactly matches scenes in the movie. Sometimes the truth really is stranger, and better, than fiction.
Hurry, friends, this one leaves HBO on August 28th. Catch it before it's gone, and take a moment to reflect on the games you used to love playing. Maybe it's time to bring them back.
Happy Streaming! Grace