The Reel Review
A man whose life is stuck in a rut is offered a chance to compete in a game show streaming on the dark web to win one million dollars if he can survive 30 days without being killed by hunters. When he discovers a loophole in the rules which states he can only be killed while alone, it prompts him to come up with some unconventional around-the-clock teammates to survive. Actor Jake Johnson (Spider-man: Into the Spider-Verse, Jurassic World, New Girl) wrote, directed and stars in this comedy/thriller.
Strange but interesting premise aside, this Jake Johnson vanity project is only mildly amusing and certainly not thrilling. His protagonist, Tommy, is pretty tedious and unlikable, making it hard to root for his success. To his credit, Johnson did manage to get an impressive acting line-up that includes Andy Samberg, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Lloyd, Natalie Morales, Emily Hampshire (Schitt’s Creek) and Mary Holland (Senior Year, Happiest Season). They just don’t have much to do.
Self Reliance desperately wants to be a comedy about finding yourself through connections with others. But being so tonally inconsistent and without committing to the comedy or even the danger, it is just a strange and frustrating waste of time.
• Jake Johnson says the inspiration for the story was based on various Japanese game shows with extreme premises that he watched as a boy.
• The motel scene was filmed at the Hollywood Premiere Motel, which was also used in season 3 of Fargo and 2017’s Twin Peaks.
• This is Jake Johnson’s directorial debut.