Monthly Archives: January 2013

Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

I can’t recall the last time I watched a non-mainstream movie.  It’s not that I dislike them, I just don’t tend to watch a lot of movies in general, so when I do I tend to lean towards the blockbusters.

But we were there on Saturday night, having a few drinks, and decided to scroll through Amazon’s selection when we happened upon this trailer:

Something about just said “WATCH THIS!”

Darius: I have no funk. I’m totally funkless.

Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is an intern at a magazine who volunteers to help staff writer Jeff (Jake Johnson) investigate a bizarre classified ad looking for a partner to time travel with. Something about the ad breaks through her generally cloudy demeanor and off she road trips with Jeff and fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni). They quickly discover that the classified ad writer is a 35-ish grocery store worker named Kenneth (Mark Duplass), and Jeff clumsily tries to buddy up to him. Kenneth pegs Jeff for the tool he is, so Jeff sends Darius in, hoping she’ll have better luck.

Jeff: There’s something off about this guy, okay? So you gotta go slow, like you’re trapping a skiddish animal. You lure him. Play coy. Girls know how to do that shit.
Darius: You’re dangling my vagina out there like bait. What if this guy’s a murderer? What if he cuts me up to little pieces and eats me?
Jeff: Then the story is even better.

She’s got enough mystery to intrigue Kenneth, and he begins slowly involving her in the time travel event he’s planning. Unexpected truths, heartfelt discussions, witty dialogue and great chemistry pull this group of actors together in this low budget film billed as a romantic comedy. I don’t see this as anything like a standard RomCom, however. Yes, there’s romantic parts, and yes there’s comedy, but both are understated. I found myself drawn in to the story and the question as to whether Kenneth was insane or not.

Darius: [referring to Kenneth] What makes you think there’s something wrong with him?
Jeff: Because he thinks he can go back in time.
Darius: Was there something wrong with Einstein or David Bowie?

The side stories with Jeff and Arnau were more predictable and I wanted the film to return to Darius and Kenneth, but overall I found the film to contain enough surprises to feel like I hadn’t seen this before. All too often, even if I like a movie, I am left thinking how it borrowed from this or that other movie, and Safety Not Guaranteed kept me guessing about Kenneth’s mental state up until almost the last moments of the film, which was really refreshing.

It’s not a perfect movie, and there were some questions I was left with, but in the end I highly recommend this quirky flick!

Four and a half lasers!

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