Jake Johnson’s Dark Web Survival Game that Blends Humor with Peril
White man pointing

Jake Johnson in "Self Reliance” now streaming on HULU

Is Jake Johnson the most likable actor in Hollywood? It’s hard to argue against it. His memorable roles include Nick Miller in “New Girl” and the voice of Peter B. Parker in “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.” Not only is he a talented actor, but he also showcases his skills as a writer and director in Hulu’s latest film, “Self Reliance,” in which he wears all three hats.

Jake Johnson is Tommy, a middle-aged man struggling with his career and coping with a recent breakup (he’s clearly not over) and lives with his mom. His life takes a bizarre turn when he’s recruited by Andy Samberg, playing himself, for a dark web game. The objective: survive 30 days and win a million dollars. However, there is a catch: hunters will actively try to kill him during that time. The only loophole is that he cannot be harmed as long as he is with someone.

Of course, he says yes; otherwise, there would be no story. The problem is nobody in his life believes him. They think he’s making this up, something he used to do as a child (a theme implied several times throughout the narrative). This nudges him towards some unconventional alliances. Including a homeless man he befriends before the arch loses its charm and a somewhat undercooked romantic subplot with Anna Kendrick’s Maddy, another “contestant” in this deadly game.

The film shines when Johnson delivers a charming yet quirky performance as he navigates the script’s bizarre scenario, masterfully blending humor with a growing sense of paranoia.

Some subplots serve only as tools for character development, pushing Tommy forward, while the story sometimes avoids fully exploring its potential. Although the narrative touches on some heavy subject matter, it never fully commits.

The script toys with the idea that this entire scenario could be a figment of Tommy’s imagination — reminiscent of “Joker”? Johnson leaves us with an ambiguous ending that might not satisfy everyone, but it leaves room for interpretation and debate.

“Self Reliance” is a satisfying blend of humor, suspense, and a touch of existential crisis. No matter how boring or lonely your life may be, don’t say yes to ridiculous opportunities that seem too good to be true. Despite my usual hesitations about straight-to-streaming films, “Self Reliance” is a must-watch. Jake Johnson’s proven acting skills also hint at a promising future for him as a director. I eagerly await his next creation.