Self Reliance Review (Jake Johnson Led Hulu Film Stretches Its Fun Premise Till It Gets Tiring)



Hey there! Have you ever stumbled upon those movies or shows where characters end up in these crazy, life-threatening situations? You know, like those death games turning reality shows—total thrillers that keep you glued to the screen? Well, Jake Johnson’s directorial debut, “Self Reliance,” dives into that zone. Now, this flick is a bit of a mashup between the “fight for survival” games and the stories where someone hires an assassin to end their life and then has a change of heart.


In his directorial debut

So, meet Tommy Walcott, our main guy, chilling in LA with his mom under the strict rule that he’ll hit the road as soon as he’s jobless. Life’s ticking along until one day, Andy Samberg pops up, offering Tommy a shot at a mysterious game. And of course, Tommy jumps at it, landing himself in a warehouse where the hosts spill the beans. Survive 30 days without getting offed by assassins, and voilà, a cool million bucks is yours! Easy, right? Not so fast. Tommy’s stuck because nobody believes this game’s real, leaving him in some seriously bizarre situations to stay alive.


Self Reliance covers a plethora of topics

Now, this movie isn’t just about the thrill—it touches on some deep stuff too. Loneliness and isolation take center stage as we see Tommy, despite being a “nice guy,” pretty much isolated and relying solely on his family. But here’s the kicker: family doesn’t always come through like you’d expect. There’s a subtle nod to how tough it is for folks in this century to break away and live independently, especially with financial constraints. And then, there’s Tommy’s whole deal, kind of embodying the “nice guy” stereotype, expecting everyone to accept his dull life without asking for more.


The issue with Self Reliance

But here’s the twist: while the movie nails these themes, it sort of stops there. Sure, there’s all this cool action and quirky moments, assassins dressed as cowboys and famous faces making appearances, but it falls a bit short on the payoff. The build-up feels intense, but the delivery doesn’t quite hit the mark. Plus, the humor feels a bit forced at times, stretching things out longer than they need to be.


The actors do keep Self Reliance from becoming too boring, though

Now, hats off to Jake Johnson—he carries this movie on his shoulders. His portrayal of Tommy is spot-on, bringing out all the confusion, frustration, and need for attention brilliantly. But here’s the thing, it feels a tad self-indulgent. Like, sometimes, you wish other actors got more of the spotlight, especially when some big names like Anna Kendrick or Andy Samberg show up.


Wrapping it up

Yet, despite its flaws, “Self Reliance” isn’t a complete letdown. It taps into this growing sense of isolation we’re all facing and the crazy ways we cope with it. It’s a quick watch, perfect if you’re up for something intriguing that won’t eat up your whole evening. Plus, if you’re a fan of familiar faces and enjoy Jake Johnson’s work (hello, “New Girl” fans!), it’s worth a shot.



Leave a Comment