Self Reliance, the vigorous, humorous, bizarre new Hulu comedy film produced by The Lonely Island and directed by New Lady and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse co-star Jake Johnson, has a premise constructed for motion. A schlubby man named Tommy (performed by Johnson) is so depressed and disengaged together with his life that he agrees to be a part of an underground streaming actuality present the place he tries to evade assassins for a month. If he wins, he will get $1 million. If he loses, he dies.
Which will sound lots like a riff on The Most Harmful Sport, or on Stephen King’s The Operating Man, the place determined victims attempt to evade killers searching for kicks. However Self Reliance is a a lot smaller, odder, and extra emotionally pushed film, centered on human connection over massive set-pieces. Talking to Polygon forward of the film’s premiere, Johnson says he wasn’t trying to any of the apparent “folks hunted for sport” classics for inspiration.
“Two motion pictures had been an inspiration that I pushed collectively in my head, although it’s a wierd two to push collectively,” Johnson says. “I really like Jacob’s Ladder. I noticed it after I was a child, and I’ve rewatched it lots. I really like the performances, I really like the look, I really like the best way it’s shot. I really like watching Tim Robbins undergo this entire journey of attempting to determine what’s occurring.
“After which I really like [Wes Anderson’s] Bottle Rocket: I really like the comedic tone of it, the sensation of it. I really like how all the things for Dignan [Owen Wilson’s character] is useless severe. I really like that it’s somewhat unhappy. I really like that he will get hustled, however he’s nonetheless optimistic. I really like that he’s somewhat little bit of an fool, however he’s additionally somewhat bit proper. I really like the love story in that; I feel the love story with Luke Wilson and the maid is excellent, and I don’t want any extra. So for me, it was attempting to push these two motion pictures into one factor. If there was one thing I used to be trying towards, it was Can I get it to really feel somewhat bit the best way I really feel after I watch every of those? What if I watched them on the similar time?”
Johnson admits that’s a wierd double characteristic to show right into a single comedy film a couple of life-or-death recreation. “Even in pitching it, I’d be like, You’re not fallacious that it’s a bizarre combine,” he says. “It’s like placing spaghetti with sushi. However I feel it tastes good collectively.”
A part of the purpose of creating Self Reliance, Johnson’s characteristic debut, was to make a film precisely geared to his preferences, a movie nobody else may make. As he places it, he isn’t usually trying to make the leap to directing. “I’m not simply trying to make a film that I do know goes to do fairly nicely with the critics and can do fairly nicely with the followers, and it’s a reasonably protected wager,” he mentioned. “I needed to make the film that I actually needed to see, as a result of I would solely do one in all these.”
“For many who find it irresistible […] after I hear what they love about it, I’m like, That’s what I really like about it too! And for many who don’t prefer it, it’s like, Properly, it’s simply not your dish. It’s bizarre.”
Whereas some actors making their very own film might need equally seen the challenge as a method to design precisely the character they most wish to play, Johnson says he didn’t contemplate both the possibility to interrupt into a brand new type of function or to return to the type of function his followers anticipate.
“I gave that zero thought,” he says. “Actually. I imply, it’s a great query, it’s the correct query, however personally, I give it zero thought. I simply thought, What’s the story I wish to inform?” A part of that, he admits, comes from approaching his profession as a author first, and never eager about Tommy in reference to another character he’s performed.
“After I did Stumptown and I used to be a bartender in that — I swear to God, I didn’t understand that my character was a bartender, and so was Nick Miller [in New Girl], till I did press. [Interviewers are] like, What do you want about enjoying a bartender? And I’m like, Nothing? I’m not making drinks, it’s only a set. So there’s an entire a part of the sport that I simply don’t take into consideration that I in all probability ought to. Nevertheless it’s simply not what excites me.”
One other factor that doesn’t excite him is the thought of creating one other film with these characters. He’s joked in regards to the film ending with a cameo the place his New Lady co-star Lamorne Morris reveals as much as invite him into the Self Reliance Universe, Nick Fury type. (Morris isn’t within the film, however did seem in a reasonably hilarious promo for it.) However he says that a part of the pleasure of creating precisely the film he needed to make is that he can transfer on from the story.
“I feel it’s accomplished,” he says. “I beloved doing this film, and I really like these characters, and I’d like to work with these actors once more, however I don’t wish to revisit this. What I really like about TV — I really like revisiting [characters]. When you construct [a story] that approach, it’s simply the perfect. And as an actor, I really like enjoying the identical character — I really like enjoying Peter B. Parker [in the Spider-Verse movies]. I really like realizing that his story’s not accomplished, and I don’t know what’s going to occur. However once you view [a project] as a one-off — the thought of writing one other scene with Tommy? No. It’s over.”
Self Reliance is streaming on Netflix now.