Self Reliance (2024)

Self Reliance (2024)

As long as you don’t take it too seriously, Jake Johnson’s debut feature comes as a delightfully absurd romp with an existential twist



United States of America
Comedy, Thriller
Andy Samberg, Anna Kendrick, Biff Wiff
91 min


Andy Samberg being able to make you laugh with just a smile must be some kind of divine comic gift.

What it's about

Middle-aged loner Thomas Walcott (Jake Johnson) is invited to play a deadly game show that promises to award him a million dollars if he’s able to survive a set of hunters within 30 days. The catch? They can only kill him if he’s alone.

The take

It’s kind of amazing how Johnson, who writes, directs, and stars in this feature, narrowly escapes narrative holes by being so darn self-effacing and likable. The female lead Maddy (Anna Kendrick) should be denounced as a Manic Pixie Girl, but because of Johnson and Kendrick’s overflowing charm, you don’t question the flimsiness of her character until much later on. The game itself should not make sense, but because Johnson is so committed in his physical performance, and so arresting in his charisma, all is forgiven. Self Reliance is like a tasty souffle that looks great at the moment, but left for longer, poofs and deflates. As long as you don't take it too seriously, the film should be a fun if forgettable ride.

What stands out

The polarizing ending. Now, you could either hate it for its simplicity, or like me, you could love it for the same reason. Spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the film yet! But I love how Johnson subverts the crazy plot twists you’d come to expect in thrillers like this by giving us an ending so mundane, so ordinary, it’s actually unsettling. You’re left searching for more long after the credits have rolled, which is more powerful feeling than what most films leave you with. 


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