Now on Hulu, Save Yourselves! is an indie comedy asking the pressing question: If millennial Brooklynites were faced with learning survival techniques in order to endure a space-alien invasion, would they just roll over and let themselves be anal-probed? GLOW star Sunita Mani plays half of a hipster couple in just such a predicament, and the film avoids a lot of the obvious jokes in its quest to be War of the Worlds for tightrolled pants-wearers addicted to quinoa and Instagram.
SAVE YOURSELVES!: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: “My tabs!” Jack (John Reynolds) has done the unthinkable: He deleted all of Su’s (Mani) browser tabs. They were all meticulously organized for work. And now they’re gone forever, here in “the year humankind lost Planet Earth,” per an opening subtitle. Granted, this devastation upon their live-in BF/GF relationship has yet to enjoy such an apocalyptic perspective this early in the movie. But soon enough, they may find themselves utterly unable to overcome their own personal bugaboos and crippling indecisiveness and psychobabbled existentialism and smartphone addiction in order to become here-and-now survivalists. For they are Brooklyn hipsters, and that fact may be an impossible hurdle.
Here’s how it happens, mostly, without giving it all away. Jack and Su’s friend, who quit a soulless gig in finance to raft surfboards out of environmentally evil algae, gives them the keys to his fancy cabin upstate. They vow to cold-turkey unplug for a week — no phones, no social media, no Googling hiking trails, no news feeds, no contact whatsoever with the rest of reality, no hope, no reason to live. They pack up their sourdough starter, a pet that needs constant care, and a variety of soaps in small bottles, and venture to the wilderness to reconnect with each other and themselves and nature but probably not really any of that? We’ll see.
Of course, it’s phenomenally hilarious timing. Their first night in the woods, after Jack profoundly fails to start a bonfire, they look up to the sky and see a whole bunch of shooting stars. Odd, but urbanites don’t see such things, and maybe it was just the doob they smoked. The next day, they argue and Jack tries to take it out on some logs but he gets the ax stuck and he can’t get it out and he plops on the ground in a huff and the log falls over and the ax falls out. He rushes in and divulges to Su that he’s upset about his inability to do manly things. She then confesses that she eats her contact lenses once they’ve expired. By the way, what’s with that pouffe in the cabin? It’s there, and then it isn’t, and then it’s there again. Su sneaks in a phone-check, dismisses her mother’s crazy talk of an alien invasion as the usual eyeroll of a Fox News regurge. Although maybe it’s not, and the pouffe isn’t actually a pouffe, but something that’s alive and here from another planet. After this and that threat on their very existences and much deliberation, Jack says, “We are gun people now.” I still highly doubt that, Jack.
What Movies Will It Remind You Of?: This is the terrifically amusing intersection between While We’re Young and Critters.
Performance Worth Watching: Mani has terrific screen presence and comic timing. I’m waiting for her to be cast in a big-budget above-average rom-com and cross over into superstardom. (She’s also good in Amazon thriller Evil Eye.)
Memorable Dialogue: “Check CNN. Check Twitter. Check Facebook.” — When they FINALLY get a phone signal, Su instructs Jack to find out what’s going on.
Sex and Skin: None.
Our Take: Save Yourselves! isn’t quite Millennials are Useless Suckwads: The Movie, but speaking as a Gen-Xer who doesn’t see himself implicated in the satire, it’s close. Su and Jack are two incredibly frustrating characters, relentlessly self-involved, living half their lives in the glow of their phones and the other half inside their bellybuttons. They aren’t the movie’s only targets though; there’s a scene in which a boomer woman shows a far crueler shade of self-involvement that exonerates Jack and Su somewhat. “We have no skills,” Su observes, and I laughed heartily, thankful to exist in the commonsensical space between assholes and the helpless.
This only works if you subscribe to the idea of generational divides. I guess I’m a smart, wily and realistic enough Gen-Xer to discount the idea of generational divides as mostly bull roar, but I’m also smart, wily and realistic enough to recognize the subsequent hypocrisy of my laughing at jokes couched within the idea of generational divides. So be it. The chips have fallen and all I can do is deal with it, which is something Jack and Su just can’t do. I’d curtail the deeply dumb self-analytical discourse and figure out how to mercilessly kill the pouffes, which are something I didn’t know the existence of, or how to spell, until after I watched the film. Proud I am, of how I identified a nasty alien taking the form of a large furball as a Tribble or a Crite, not a wad of decorative furniture, $49.99 at Ikea. You can take your fancy footstools and burn them for warmth when the EOW hits, because I know how to chop a log and make a fire with it. I am Jack’s raging generational angst. No, not the Jack from this movie, the other Jack from a different movie.
I kid, mostly. Writer-directors Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson mine significant comedy from the intricacies of characters who grew up with the internet and can’t function without it (he said, after Googling what a “pouffe” is). The film is an excruciatingly witty farce with a fresh angle on the E.T.s-attack genre, emphasizing the core characters’ relationship and Mani and Reynolds’ inspired performances — and therefore working nicely within the confines of a modest budget. Don’t expect big, fancy FX shots or action here; it’s more about how Jack and Su can’t really get over their little neuroses and hang-ups in order to avoid being eaten or killed or harvested for their spinal fluid or dropped in a Tralfamadorian zoo, or whatever. We don’t know what’s going on with the Aliens and Everything, but we sure know what’s going on with them, and once we pragmatists get over the urge to wring their stupid-ass necks, that’s funny as hell.
Our Call: STREAM IT. Save Yourselves! is well-written, consistently amusing and offbeat without veering into indie-quirksville or going for broad, easy laughs.
John Serba is a freelance writer and film critic based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Read more of his work at johnserbaatlarge.com or follow him on Twitter: @johnserba.
The post Stream It Or Skip It: ‘Save Yourselves!’ on Hulu, an Alien-Invasion Satire That Takes Good-Natured Swipes at the Millennial Generation appeared first on Decider.