By Kaylee Brewster
“Tag” is a movie about a group of friends who have been playing tag for 30 years.
Despite it’s absurd premise, the movie is based on a true story. Seriously.
Not only that, the people who the film is based on got their tag-playing start right here in the Pacific Northwest.
The group of 10 men, who call themselves the “Tag Brothers,” began playing tag at Gonzaga Preparatory School in Spokane in the 1980s. Mike Konesky, Joe Tombari, Bill Akers, Brian Dennehy, the Rev. Sean Raftis, Joey Caferro, Chris Ammann, Rick Bruya, Patrick Schultheis and Mark Mengert all played the game, which ended when their school career together did, according to a recent article in The Spokesman-Review.
Eight years later, as they were reminiscing about the game, they decided to bring it back, with some new ground rules. For the month of the February the game is on with no geographical limitations. Whoever is the last to be tagged “It” by midnight Feb. 28 remains so until the game starts again the following year.
Schultheis, who became a lawyer, even came up a contract called the “Tag Participation Agreement,” which includes rules such as no tag backs and if someone asks you if you are “It” you must answer honestly.
The game has included disguises, break-ins, flights, car trips, decoys and spies. Even the wives of the participants got involved at times.
The Wall Street Journal wrote an article about the game and the players in 2013, which went viral, leading to the film showing in theaters nationwide now.
The film condenses the group into five characters playing over 30 years. Also, there is an added plot twist where one of the players, played by Jeremy Renner, has never been tagged. The others see their chance to finally get him on his wedding day.
The actors didn’t meet their real life counterparts until the film’s premiere. While most of the film takes place in Spokane, it turns out to be Spokane-in-name-only, as most of the filming took place in Atlanta. While some of the film’s events have been Hollywoodized, some tag-related incidents remain true to the story, including a tag at a funeral.
A few of the Tag Brothers still live in Washington and some are in Montana, so every February there is a high-intensity game of tag occuring in the region that you probably had no idea existed.