Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sundance with Abe: Save Yourselves

I’m thrilled to be attending and covering the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah for the seventh time. I’m seeing as many movies as I can each day and will post reviews of each as I can, as well as video reviews uploaded to YouTube.

Save Yourselves
Directed by Alex Huston Fischer
U.S. Dramatic Competition

Millennials have a tendency to spend too much time on their phones. What didn’t exist for previous generations is all too available, keeping information easily searchable and much of the mystery of life too solvable. Some people, when they notice that they rarely look up from their phones and actually talk, choose to unplug for a period of time, to reconnect with themselves and others, as well as with nature. That can be good and all, though it’s always possible that the one time people aren’t connected is precisely where they most need to be.

Jack (John Reynolds) and Su (Sunita Mani) are in a bit of a rut and feel that they could use some time away from the Internet and the city. They decide to take a week off and leave Brooklyn to head up to a friend’s house in the woods. They find a charming place waiting for them, one that can’t immediately fix all their problems but offers and idyllic environment in which to try being honest. What they don’t know, however, is that aliens that look like rats are invading New York, and their choice to disconnect couldn’t have come at a more disastrous time.

Much of the humor in this film comes from the questionable decisions that Jack and Su make and the idiotic things that they say. For those who do have so much access to information, they’re ignorant of quite a bit, and that’s amplified considerably when they have to contend with the murderous aliens they refer to as “poofs” because they initially think they must just be decorative furry pillows. Those laughs only go so far, but this reviewer’s audience was cracking up at the incredible level of incompetence demonstrated by these technologically-dependent people with no idea what they’re up against and pretty poor notions of how to fight it.

Reynolds and Mani do a great job of leaning into their characters, delivering their lines with purpose and energetically conveying their weaknesses. They’re having fun and embracing this film for the absurdity that it is. While it is funny, it’s also extremely over-the-top, and at a certain point it’s just a mockery about stupid people whose ability to survive an alien invasion is truly baffling. In the end, it’s more fun than not, and this film might have more value as a parody of sci-fi or horror films that give their protagonists all too much credit.


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