- Evan Laslo
Save Yourselves!: Couldn’t the Aliens Call First? by Grace Zurawski
With the never-ending ring of texts, calls, and similar notifications, it’s not difficult for technology to overwhelm us. Phone-reliant Jack and Su (John Paul Reynolds and Sunita Mani) stuck in lackluster careers struggle to find meaning in their lives. The Brooklynites venture into the wilderness to rediscover themselves when aliens suddenly invade the Earth, and the one time they’re away from the internet is when it’s needed most.
The film begins rather normally with the skilless millennial duo in a fight about important computer tabs, then shifts to the wedding party of one of the numerous couples they keep up with on social media. After coming to the realization that they are glued to their phones, Jack and Su plan for a trip to their friend Raf’s upstate cabin. Su comes prepared with a notebook full of hikes, mental exercises, and other activities to motivate them to become better people. In the midst of this, Jack notices a strange pouffe appear in the living room and questions if it has always been there. When they begin to experience strange instances of gunshots, airborne creatures, and missing alcohol, they convince themselves it’s nothing.
Eventually surrendering to their phones, Su and Jack learn of an alien invasion of pouffes that happened conveniently as they left for the cabin. Preparations for evacuation are put into motion, forcing them into the woods for a panicked adventure of gunpoint robbery, unintentional adoption, and learning to drive a stick shift.
Though nothing goes as planned—after all, no one can really predict an alien attack—sometimes the best things come from the unexpected. Su and Jack realize how much they have grown as individuals and as a couple throughout this wild experience. As silly as this movie seems, it provides an incredibly relatable take on discovering the kind of person you want to be in your career, relationships, and life. We watch normal people like us go through the worries of the modern world, even the seemingly pointless ones like keeping your travel soaps organized.
When on the lookout for the killer pouffes, Su refers to the movie’s title, pondering if they’re going to have to “save themselves.” Yes, she means the responsibility of escaping the aliens, but this could also be a question of self-improvement. Are they going to save themselves, or will they continue to live in the endless loop of scrolling the internet and in a dissatisfied life?
The relatability of Jack and Su to our general population demonstrates our ill-fated society. The damage of overdependence on our phones and computers is obvious, and Jack and Su exemplify this in a more light-hearted fashion. Save Yourselves! expresses how possibly the only thing that will teach people to use technology in moderation is a planet-wide emergency. While they attempt to stay alive, Jack and Su grow closer as a couple and learn how to be functioning adults with purpose. Jack’s trial at parenthood gives him a chance to test out his skills of caring for others, though feeding a sourdough starter is admittedly far less risky. As for Su, navigating through the mountains for survival helps put her planning skills to a truly valuable test.
If you’re not in the mood to question your existence, the quirky and straightforward nature of Save Yourselves! allows for a more lowkey watch. The dual nature of the film is commendable and offers a new viewing experience each time depending on the mood you’re in. The dialogue is casual and subtle enough for the audience to not quite know when the characters are kidding. Jack’s lovable and weird personality never leaves you without something to laugh about, while organized and worrisome Su is always there to bring us back down to Earth. Writers and directors Eleanor Wilson and Alex Huston Fischer say Jack and Su were largely based on themselves, while the supporting characters were inspired by the people they’d met while in Brooklyn.
The end of the movie is a point of debate for many. Jack, Su, and Baby Jack (the baby abandoned when his parents were killed by the aliens) float up into the sky via an oxygen-filled bubble. Gazing into the atmosphere to see other people and animals in the same bubbles, Jack asks “Are we saved?” This line alludes to their questionable safety as well ask their newfound liberation from technology. This might appear to be a rather abrupt ending since no one actually discovers why the pouffes are there or if they truly are saved. Some think it’s due to the lack of budget since this wasn’t exactly a blockbuster. Turns out, it’s actually an artistic choice. Wilson and Fischer claim “We wanted it to feel very grounded and like what might happen if this actually happened to us [...] It’s their movie, and in this event, other people have their own movies [...] In this timeline, other people might know some things about the pouffes, but they don’t.” The disputable ending circles back to where they started. They’re trapped in the virtual bubble as a presage but end in a real-life bubble. Fischer says, “They don’t know where they’re doing or what to do; they’re lost in oblivion.”
Save Yourselves! is a humorous, yet thought-provoking, look at the effects of technology on today’s society. It inspired me to take a social media detox and focus on what goals I hope to achieve. Let’s just hope there are no alien invasions this time around.