Set Visit: Everything you need to know about TAG

Last Updated on August 2, 2021

Read our interviews with the cast of TAG right HERE!

It may seem farfetched to set a story around a long-running game of tag, but sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. In the case of Jeff Tomsic’s comedy TAG, the film is, shockingly, based on truth. It was inspired by the very real story of a group of friends who, for one month a year, attempt to out-do each other at the schoolyard game. Weddings, funerals, hospital visits – no place is off limits for this gang, who look for every opportunity to surprise each other with a tag. That does indeed sound like a fun concept for a movie, and TAG is the product of that crazy tale. Featuring a very impressive cast including Ed Helms, Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Jake Johnson, Hannibal Buress, Isla Fisher, Annabelle Wallis and Rashida Jones, the film is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. on June 15th. Last year, was invited to the set in Atlanta (which is standing in for Spokane, Washington) and learned a thing or two about the raucous action-comedy. Here are a few things you need to know about TAG:

– The scene I witnessed being filmed took place in a therapist’s office. The therapist (Carrie Brownstein) is counseling Sable (Hannibal Buress), who is a very insecure character. Turns out Sable’s three childhood friends – played by Ed Helms, Jon Hamm and Jake Johnson – are hiding in the closet, listening to his session, and are forced to come out after making too much noise in there. They tag Sable and then try to convince him to accompany them on a trip to tag Jerry (Jeremy Renner), their friend who hasn’t been “it” in the 30 years they’ve been playing this crazy game. Lots of improv in this scene, as the guys struggle to explain themselves to Brownstein’s flummoxed therapist.

– As mentioned, TAG is – incredibly – based on a true story. A large group of friends have been playing tag for well over 20 years, and their unlikely tale became fodder for an article in the Wall Street Journal in 2013 when a reporter actually witnessed a “tag” while they were interviewing an executive from Nordstrom. It was this article that inspired the movie, although the movie takes several liberties with the actual details (including upping the ante in terms of hectic action; the film has many elaborate stunts and set-pieces.) ESPN also eventually did a feature on the “Tag Brothers.”

– In real life, there’s about ten guys participating in the tag game. In the movie it’s only five. The real-life tag guys didn’t have a whole lot of input on the movie, as it’s more of an exaggerated version of what they’ve been doing.

The film is 100% an R-rated picture; a PG-13 was never considered. Says producer Todd Garner, ” when you’re making a movie about forty year old men, if you try to go for kids too… I think you’re going to make a movie for nobody.” The film aimed at adults who have nostalgia for their friends.

– Director Jeff Tomsic is going all out with the action scenes, with some Jason Bourne-esque touches thrown in.

Jeremy Renner plays an ultra-competitive gym owner who has never been tagged. He’s described as a big fish in a small pond because he’s never left the small town he and the others grew up in. He’s the main person the others are trying to tag, during what just so happens to be his wedding week. He’s intending to quit the long-running game, which increases the others’ desire to tag him.

– Renner seriously injured both of his arms while shooting a stunt. (Ironically, he had just safely wrapped AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR right before jumping into TAG.) He was in a harness doing a stunt and it didn’t go quite according to plan and he hyperextended his arms. He went to the emergency room and went back to set about three hours later to continue filming.

Fall down seven times…stand up 8! #fixedup #pushthrough

A post shared by Jeremy Renner (@renner4real) on Jun 22, 2017 at 2:40pm PDT

Brian Dennehy and Thomas Middleditch both have cameos in the film. Good news for all of you who are specific fans of those two.

Jake Johnson and Jon Hamm‘s characters both dated Rashida Jones‘ character in the past, creating a weird little love triangle. In the film, Jones’ husband has recently passed away, so it sounds like both the Johnson and Hamm characters are angling to get a date with her. (Yeah, pretty dark stuff.)

Ed Helms is described as the “cheerleader” of the group, the one determined to keep the guys invested in not only the game but their friendship as well.

Isla Fisher plays Ed Helms‘ wife, and she’s very much into the game, even though the women in the film don’t technically play. The film’s producer described her as Helms’ “Q,” someone who really tries to help him. She’s loosely based on one of the real wives.


About the Author

Eric Walkuski is a longtime writer, critic, and reporter for He's been a contributor for over 15 years, having written dozens of reviews and hundreds of news articles for the site. In addition, he's conducted almost 100 interviews as JoBlo's New York correspondent.