January 15, 2024

SCREEN | Jake Johnson Plays A Deadly Game – 'Self Reliance'

"I hope no one murders either of you."
Jake Johnson Anna Kendrick GaTa | Self-Reliance Hulu
Neon / MRC
Comic actor Jake Johnson makes his directorial debut in the absurd indie comedy Self Reliance about a lonely, middle-aged man without much going on playing a dark web reality television game show reminiscent of The Game for a chance to win a million dollars if he can stay alive for thirty days while unknown participants try to hunt him down and kill him whenever he's alone.

Co-starring Anna Kendrick and Natalie Morales as Johnson's fellow game show contestant and his ex-girlfriend he's still geting over, Self Reliance is the kind of high-concept lo-fi indie film you might expect based on the actor/filmmaker's recent string of character-based work focused on comedic performances ground offbeat situational film premises. Produced by The Lonely Island with Andy Samberg appearing as strung-out of himself to explain the game, the comedy embraces its own limitations and small budget to heighten the comic sense of absurdism highlighted by Johnson's manic performance.

Johnson surely elevates his own, fairly mild material about the dangers of complacency to make Self Reliance worth watching for his trademark brand of charming comedic chaos. He shows heart and a talent for direction with his ability to focus down on characters and performance. His film is often hilarious and ridiculous with audiences able to believe the absurdity of his oddball desperation as a loser looking for a way out of his sad sack rut.

Self Reliance is available to stream on Paramount+ in Canada (and Hulu in the U.S.) and through video on demand.

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