Sure, you may know him best as Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, but Jeremy Renner has been screen acting professionally since 1995, and he’s played more than the Marvel Universe’s favorite archer. Right now, plenty of HBO Max subscribers are appreciating the actor’s comedy chops by way of the 2018 comedy Tag. Joined by a healthy of mix of comic and dramatic actors, Tag has pushed its way to the #4 spot on HBO Max’s streaming chart.
While the premise of Tag sounds fairly ridiculous, it’s based on a real story. Jeremy Renner’s Jerry and his friends have enjoyed an annual tradition since 1983. Every May, the friends embark on a month-long game of Tag, and Renner’s character is the only one of the bunch who still, decades later, has never been tagged. The film is based on the so-called Tag Brothers, who had been playing their own month-long game of Tag when the Wall Street Journal profiled them in 2013. By the month following the WSJ article’s publication, per Slash Film, Broken Road producer Todd Garner had bought the film rights.
Tag had a few big names come in and out of the project before Jeremy Renner was tapped to play Jerry. The first two actors Deadline reported were attached to Tag were Will Ferrell and Jack Black, whose only film collaboration before then was a single scene of 2004’s Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy. By 2016, both Black and Ferrell had left the project and Tracy Morgan had signed on though he eventually left as well.
Once all the changes were made and the cast was finalized, Jeremy Renner’s Jerry was joined in his month-long contest by Ed Helms as Hoagie, Jon Hamm as Bob, Jake Johnson as Chilli, and Hannibal Buress as Kevin. Annabelle Wallis (The Mummy) played a Wall Street Journal reporter writing a story about the taggers, Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers) plays Hoagie’s wife Anna, Rashida Jones is Cheryl, and Leslie Bibb (Iron Man) is Jerry’s fiance Susan. The late Brian Denehy makes one of his final film appearances as Chilli’s father while Saturday Night Live alum Nora Dunn plays Chilli’s mother.
While you’d think a movie about playing Tag would be one of the least likely films to cause any serious injuries, Jeremy Renner wound up suffering an infamous injury that forced the filmmakers to use a lot more CGI than they planned. Variety reported in July 2017 that Renner fell 20 feet while performing a stunt, fracturing both of his arms in the process. The following year, Renner told Entertainment Weekly the injury occurred during a scene when he runs up a series of stacked chairs to escape his friends. The rigging on the chairs broke and Renner fell. He also said he didn’t realize his arms were broken yet, so he did the stunt a second time before heading to the hospital. CGI effects were used replace his splints.
In the film we find out just how far the friends are willing to go in order to tag or to avoid getting tagged. After revealing to them that Jerry intends to retire from the game after this year, Hoagie recruits the others in a concerted effort to finally tag him. Back in their hometown, they discover that not only is Jerry engaged, but he didn’t invite any of them to the proceedings because he knew they would all use the wedding as an opportunity to get him tagged. They agree to dispense with tag at the wedding or any wedding-related events, but it doesn’t take long for it to become clear that no one intends to stick by that promise.
By the end of the film, the taggers actually go so far as to trap Jeremy Renner’s character in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting — forcing him to hide where the priests store their wine. He escapes only because of the arrival of Susan, who fakes a miscarriage in order to convince Jerry’s friends the wedding is postponed. They discover the truth, and hilarity ensues.
Of course, there’s always the chance to decide for yourself. Tag, starring Jeremy Renner, is currently streaming on HBO Max.