Amid the commotion of our increasingly virtual existence, in which connectivity seems nearly as essential as running water, the prospect of unplugging for a week offers both rejuvenation and risk. We’ve reached a point where a simple trip to the grocery store without one’s phone can feel like walking a tightrope without a net, and going off the grid begs the question: what if something happens? Sci-fi comedy Save Yourselves! doesn’t just poke fun at the notion that unplugging is the end of the world, but it also plays on a scenario where the world does indeed end while its oblivious protagonists are unplugged.

Brooklyn hipster couple Su (Sunita Mani) and Jack (John Reynolds) clearly do need a break from their devices. Their vocations and leisure both revolve around access to the web. A domestic squabble over Jack thoughtlessly closing Su’s carefully organized internet browser tabs is punctuated with the alternating commands “Alexa play” and “Alexa stop.” Thankfully, the couple has the wherewithal to recognize their dependence on technology. They strategize ways to return to a more mindful, sustainable existence with grand intentions to start a community garden or “be vegetarian again.” But when they meet up with an eccentric friend, Raph (Ben Sinclair), a former investment banker who left the rat race behind to become hippie world-traveler and altruist, they realize that they simply need to disconnect. When Raph offers his grandfather’s cabin as a rustic getaway, Su and Jack jump at the chance.

Despite watching an unusual number of shooting stars streaking down from the sky and hearing semi-frequent spates of distant gunshots, Su and Jack begin to relax in nature—even if Jack can’t figure out how to start a campfire. However, it doesn’t take long for the disparity of their respective visions to find them again. Jack just wants to kick back, imbibe a bit and bake bread. Su, on the other hand, brings along relationship-advice articles she’d copied down off the internet by hand, her desire to be productive fueled partly by the fact she was fired for taking unplanned time off to go on this trip in the first place.

Though disconnecting from devices doesn’t immediately lead to renewed connection with each other, they each begin learning a thing or two about themselves. Su confronts her restless workaholism, and Jack acknowledges he’s struggled with the notion of masculinity his whole life, to the point where he can’t do man stuff like bait a fish hook or fix the plumbing. When a fuzzy “decorative pouffes” about the size of footstool seems to change locations within the cabin, and after Su finally cracks and listens to voicemails from her mom warning that “those rats in New York aren’t rats,” the couple soon realize that an invasion is underway. They’re going to have to learn a whole host of new survival skills in order to make it out of the woods alive.

Save Yourselves! succeeds on the offbeat likability of its protagonists and the quick wit of their dialogue. Writer-director duo Alex Huston Fischer and Eleanor Wilson imbue their debut feature with lighthearted ribbing of the stereotype that aging, urban millennials struggle to grow up—Jack admits to an inability to decipher whether a bathroom is dirty—and they play up how one’s ideals can occasionally clash with reality. As the couple realizes they are under siege, Su and Jack debate the sociocultural implications of retrieving the rifle in the cabin basement and whether that will make them “gun people.” After all, on the one hand, gun owners are over 10 times more likely to kill themselves rather than kill an intruder, but on the other hand, when a space invader attacks them, they could shoot it.

The unoriginality of the pouffes-ball aliens, a combination of “Star Trek” Tribbles and the tentacled, alcohol-affected monsters in Grabbers, also works in the film’s favor, keeping it firmly planted in the comedic realm and never bordering on horror. Though the addition of an orphaned baby feels a little too on-the-nose in the hipsters-struggling-with-adulthood theme, the film mostly feels fresh and vital even when indulging in well-worn tropes. Quite literally, its protagonists convey the message that “the world is fucked up and we should stop pretending it’s not,” making Save Yourselves! one of the more apt comedies for 2020.

This techno-satire mostly feels fresh and vital even when indulging in well-worn tropes.
75 %
Comedy That Connects
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