Producers: Mandy Tagger Btockey, Adi Erzoni and Kara Durrett Director: Alex H. Fischer and Eleanor Wilson Screenplay: Alex H. Fischer and Eleanor Wilson Cast: Sunita Mani, John Reynolds, Ben Sinclair, Johanna Day, Jo Firestone, John Early, Gary Richardson, Zenobia Shroff and Amy Sedaris Distributor: Bleecker Street
An amusingly threadbare movie about an alien takeover of earth, “Save Yourselves!” has wannabe cult movie status written all over it—quite deliberately so, with tongue-in-cheek, cheesy effects by Jeff Desom, Calder Greenwood and Neil Simon (no, not that Neil Simon, of course) that might make you think of something like “Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.” But winks at “Star Trek” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” will tickle more astute viewers, as will the deft comedic talents of co-stars Sunita Mani and John Reynolds.
The two are a rather quarrelsome Brooklyn pair, tied to their jobs, phones and laptops. They realize the need for a change, and when a friend (Ben Sinclair) offers them the use of a remote rustic cabin as a retreat from city life, they agree to take him up on it. They vow to do without any electronic contact with the outside world for a week, leaving them to commune only with themselves and nature.
Initially they seem giddily content with this arrangement: the place is nice, the location beautiful; they’ve never seen so many shooting stars before. There are some curiosities, like the odd-looking thing that shows up in the living room, which they take to be some sort of weird idea of interior decoration. They come to call it a pouffe, though Trekkers might prefer another name.
So they remain blissfully unaware of what’s going on elsewhere, despite a few clues going on around them that they simply fail to notice, until Su breaks their agreement and checks her cell phone for messages. The word is that earth has come under invasion from some sort of alien life form and panic has set in. The duo immediately try to prepare for the worst, timing how long it will take to pack up and get out and even practicing, none too adeptly, with a rifle they locate.
Eventually they make t onto the road despite obstacles the extraterrestrials create, and encounter a few other survivors. They wind up without a vehicle but with a baby—which results in a whole new family dynamic. But the addition of a cute, cooing third party does not mean that they will escape the aliens’ attention. Their trek through the woods has some dead spots, but finds its way to a “spectacular” finale that might remind you of a bargain-basement version of a Kubrickian finale.
Alex H. Fischer and Elizabeth Wilson’s script is amusing, with plenty of goofy banter between the two inept millennials, and their direction is more than adequate, but it’s the team of Mani and Reynolds who bring things to life: this is essentially a two-hander (although the baby, actually played by several infants, certainly gets his share of scene-stealing inserts), and the duo works comfortably together, tossing off their riffs with genial aplomb. The budget probably wouldn’t have covered catering costs on “Tenet,” but the technical team headed by cinematographer Matt Clegg and production designer Katie Fleming make do, and editor Sofi Marshall keeps matters to a trim hour-and-a-half, and the score by Andrew Orkin and Kyle McKeveny isn’t allowed to get obnoxious.
“Save Yourselves!” is just a trifle, a slight humorous take on the aliens-among-us genre, but while uneven it provides a steady stream of chuckles and a few big laughs.