Going Off The Grid Can Only Save You For So Long in 'Save Yourselves'
October 2, 2020
Save Yourselves is a sci-fi/romantic comedy/action film for unsettled times. The movie follows very millennial Brooklyn couple Jack and Sue, played by real life Brooklyn comedians and friends John Reynolds and Sunita Mani. This pair was into nurturing sourdough starters before it was cool, and concerned about ideas of masculinity and achievement even while on vacation.
The movie was crafted by another real life filmmaking couple, Alex H. Fischer and Eleanor Wilson, who do not shy away from the uncomfortable existential questions most couples face when they fall into the space of comfortable, yet not-legally-committed to each other relationship status. The pair was thrilled to cast upcoming comedians Reynolds and Mani, who sell the need to unplug in their friend’s upstate New York cabin (provided by High Maintenance’s Ben Sinclair) pretty deeply.
Early in the film Mani throws Reynolds' phone across the room unprompted and he utters a “thank you” so grateful you can feel his combined pleasure and pain in being tied to his phone.
“We did a screen test with them and almost cried at how adorable they were together,” says Fischer. “With a script that is incredibly wordy, we needed the physical comedy to be part of it as well,” adds Wilson. “We really knew that we had something special when we saw them together.”
Indeed, Reynolds and Mani manage to be infinitely pleasurable to watch in spite of the fact that they cannot unplug to literally save their lives. When the realization starts to creep in that some poufs (yes, like fury ottomans found in most millennial apartments) are about to overtake earth, Mani’s Sue muses, “We have no skills.” It’s a painful yet all too relatable plight.
But the relationship gets more rocky when Sue has a harder time connecting than her counterpart, who is more than content to swim in the lake, bake, get whiskey drunk, and do-nothing. Sue, who lost her job for the trip, wants to accomplish something and thus she’s brought a notebook full of deeply probing questions to hopefully connect more fully with her partner.
When the questions become a source of consternation, things heat up until Sue breaks down and checks her phone (the one cardinal rule of this vacation: to unplug). Sue gets wind that something might be wrong back home, but her Mom is a Fox news watcher, so who can really tell. When the couple realizes they are becoming surrounded by killer poufs, Jack feels extra betrayed by Sue, who dared to go back on their pact.
Luckily for Jack and Sue they stumble upon the most adorable baby you’ve ever seen in their quest for survival. They take on the baby and it seems to assuage their selfishness to find a newfound love for each other.
“We wanted the movie to feel like a sped-up version of their relationship,” says Wilson. “We don’t have kids yet,” muses Fisher. “But our friends tell us it’s like, all of a sudden there’s a baby, and you have to take care of it. It felt like a perfect joke, and definitely fit in line with the metaphor of everything else—growing up and buckling down; or buckling up. What do you do when you have to look after something that is not yourself? You rise to the challenge, or you fail.”
Perhaps some of the best elements of the film are the romantic comedy moments; the glances of acknowledgement, and the heartfelt I love you's. Wilson and Fisher know these moments all too well as a pair who both love and work together.
Their advice for a successful writing partnership, “Reward yourself with pick-me-ups,” says Fisher. Their recommendation involves half a beer and a shakerato (two shots of espresso and sugar shaken on ice). Fisher also states, “When you have a co-writer you get broken like a horse, and by the end you have no ego and the best idea wins.”
In the end, it’s also teamwork that allows Jack and Sue to “survive” their apocalypse. Wilson and Fisher recommend having a very well-planned “go bag,” both for making a movie and for real life. “It’s good to be prepared,” Wilson wisely recommends. Sue and Jack were as prepared for the unexpected as anyone could be, and they might also throw in: always charge your cell phone.
Written by: Lindsay StidhamLindsay holds an MFA in screenwriting from the American Film Institute. She has overseen two scripts from script to screen as a writer/ producer. SPOONER, starring Matthew Lillard (SLAMDANCE), and DOUCHEBAG (SUNDANCE) both released theatrically. Most recently Lindsay sold PLAY NICE starring Mary Lynn Rajskub. The series was distributed on Hulu. Recent directing endeavors include the Walla Walla premiering (and best screenplay nominated) TIL DEATH DO US PART, and the music video for Bible Belt’s Tomorrow All Today. Lindsay is currently working on an interactive romcom for the production company Effin' Funny, and a feature film script for Smarty Pants Pictures. Lindsay also currently works as an Adjunct Screenwriting Faculty member at USC’s School of Cinematic Arts. You can follow her work here: https://lindsaystidham.onfabrik.com/