Everything We Know So Far About Jake Johnson’s Directorial Debut

Accomplished comedian Jake Johnson is venturing into new territory this winter by directing, writing, producing, and starring in a brand-new Hulu original feature, Self Reliance. Best known for his work on New Girl, Johnson has appeared in an acting capacity in a wealth of movies and shows, including Safety Not Guaranteed, Tag, as well as both Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse. Now, Johnson will have complete creative control with Self-Reliance, which is set to tell the story of Tommy (Jake Johnson) – a man who finds a new appreciation for life and relationships when he signs up for a dark web reality series (and one that could potentially end in Tommy’s death).

To learn more about Jake Johnson’s directorial debut, and its cast, trailer, release date, and more, here is everything we know so far about Self-Reliance.

When is ‘Self Reliance’ Coming Out?

Jake Johnson embarks on a darkly comedic adventure of self-discovery when Self Reliance hits streaming on Friday, January 12th, 2024.


Self Reliance

Given the opportunity to participate in a life or death reality game show, one man discovers there’s a lot to live for.

Release Date
January 12, 2024


85 minutes

Main Genre

Where Can You Watch ‘Self Reliance’?

Jake Johnson and Bill Wiff in 'Self Reliance'
Image via Hulu

You can see Jake Johnson’s directorial debut when it premieres in mid-January on Hulu, which is the streaming platform where Self Reliance will be exclusively available. Before the upcoming merger of Disney+ and Hulu, the latter platform was a prominent place for The Walt Disney Company and their subsidiary of 20th Century Studios to release more mature and adult-centric content that would have seemed more out of place on Hulu. A prime example of this is Hulu’s smash hit time-loop comedy Palm Springs, which also happens to star Andy Samberg, who also has a prominent role in Self Reliance.

Self Reliance had a theatrical release on January 3rd, 2024, only for one night. Therefore, the only opportunity to witness Jack Johnson elude assassins is when it debuts on Hulu on January 12th.

Does ‘Self Reliance’ Have A Trailer?

Hulu released the first trailer for Self Reliance on December 5th. The trailer quickly begins with the main protagonist, Tommy, walking down a quiet sidewalk. This ordinary circumstance suddenly becomes anything but when a car pulls up beside him. Inside that car is Andy Samberg, who seems to know quite a lot about Jake and his mundane lifestyle. Jake is then told that he’s been selected to be a contestant on a wildly popular reality show that is only visible on the dark web. The rules of the game are relatively simple. For thirty days, Tommy will be pursued by assailants known as ‘the hunters’, who will literally be trying to murder him whenever he is alone. Tommy’s only means of survival was to have someone next to him or in his immediate vicinity at all times.

Tommy doesn’t have many friends, so finding someone to stick close to him is going to be a bit of a challenge. Thankfully, he does find a fellow contestant named Maddy (Anna Kendrick), and the two quickly form an unexpected bond as they try to survive the next thirty days. Hopefully, with their teamwork, they’ll be able to overcome intruding ninjas, fierce sumo wrestlers, and a very violent Ellen Degeneres impersonator (Tamra Brown).

Who Stars in ‘Self Reliance’?

Despite already wearing many hats as writer, director, and producer, Jake Johnson will still be the lead star of Self Reliance. Following his breakout performance in New Girl, Johnson has appeared in a number of hit comedies with Neighbors, Let’s Be Cops, Tag, and more. That said, Johnson has occasionally delved into more serious territory, such as his charismatic yet emotional voiceover role as Peter B. Parker in the Spider-Verse films.

Joining Johnson is an impressive supporting cast for Self Reliance, starting with his Drinking Buddies co-star Anna Kendrick, best known for her work in the Pitch Perfect trilogy. That’s only scratching the surface, as the film also prominently features Saturday Night Live alumni and Lonely Island member Andy Samberg, Everything Everywhere All at Once star Biff Wiff, Parks and Recreation regular Natalie Morales, rapper and Dave star Gata, Stranger Things breakout Eduardo Franco, NBA player and John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum star Boban Marjanovic, Whose Line is it Anyway? cast member Wayne Brady, Schitt’s Creek star Emily Hampshire, and Back to the Future icon Christopher Lloyd.

The rest of the cast also includes Daryl J. Johnson (Punk’d), Tamra Brown (Woogie), Sky Elobar (Under the Silver Lake), Mary Holland (Happiest Season), Bjorn Johnson (Counterpart), Steven Littles (Picture Me Dead), and John Hans Tester (The Man in the High Castle).

What is ‘Self Reliance’ About?

Jake Johnson and Anna Kendrick in 'Self Reliance'
Image via Hulu

The official plot synopsis of Self Reliance reads as follows:

“Tommy receives an invitation to win $1 million by playing a game where he must outwit hunters attempting to kill him. He realizes the hunters can only attack him when he’s alone, but none of his friends and family believe the game is real.”

Who is Making ‘Self Reliance’?

Image via DECAL Releasing

In addition to starring in the film, Jake Johnson will also be directing, writing, and producing Self Reliance. While this is Jake Johnson’s first directorial feature, he does have some directing experience, given that he did direct one episode of his hit show New Girl. Johnson isn’t the only star of Self Reliance producing either, as Andy Samberg is also producing along with the other members of his Lonely Island trio, Jorma Taccone and Akiva Schaffer. The film is also being produced by Ali Bell (Up in the Air), Joe Hardesty (Dead to Me), and Dave Lifshin (666 Park Avenue).

Also attached to the crew of Self Reliance are composer Dan Romer (Beasts of the Southern Wild), cinematographer Adam Silver (Heathers), editor Ryan Brown (Horse Girl), production designer Grace Alie (PEN15), and costume designer Heather Allison (Venom: Truth in Journalism).

Other Original Comedies You Can Watch on Hulu

While you wait to watch Jack Johnson’s debut film, check out these similar films that are available to stream now on Hulu.

Palm Springs (2020)

Andy Samberg and Cristin Milioti as Nyles and Sarah drinking while floating on a pool in 'Palm Springs'
Image Via Hulu

Another Andy Samberg comedy, Palm Springs, puts a very clever spin on the “time-loop” format popularized by movies like Groundhog Day. The romantic comedy begins with Samberg’s character of Nyles already stuck in a time loop that causes him to repeat the day repeatedly, which he’s been doing so long that he doesn’t even remember when it started. Things get more complicated when a woman named Sarah (Cristin Milioti) gets stuck in that same loop with Nyles and begins to look for a way out of it.

Watch on Hulu

Vacation Friends (2021)

Image via Hulu

Marcus (Lil Rel Howery) and Emily (Yvonne Orji) were looking for a relaxing getaway in Vacation Friends, with Marcus even hoping to propose to Emily after years of dating. Plans go awry when some rambunctious neighbors in their hotel, Ron (John Cena) and Kyla (Meredith Hagner), accidentally ruin their room with an overflowed hot tub. To make up for their accident, Ron and Kyla offer Marcus and Emily the chance to stay with them on vacation, leading to a vacation that none of them will ever forget.

Watch on Hulu

Fire Island (2022)

Image via Hulu

Continuing with the trend of vacation comedies on Hulu, Fire Island was critically acclaimed for telling a heartwarming story about queer characters without feeling stereotypical or derogatory. The film follows a group of friends as they go to the titular Fire Island to have one last vacation getaway before they go their separate ways. While the friends may sometimes butt heads, this anticipated vacation will likely change their lives forever.

Watch on Hulu

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