Safety Not Guaranteed: the review
Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is an intern at Seattle Magazine, and she’s so unhappy that during the first scene of the movie she’s interviewing for a waitress job at a restaurant. During an editorial meeting, Jeff the full-time journalist (Jake Johnson) pitches doing a story about a weird classified ad they saw in another publication: someone is looking for a companion for a time travel mission. Who would put this ad in the paper? What’s his story? Jeff asks for interns to take with him, and he takes Darius and Arnau (Karan Soni) with. They manage to track down the author of the ad, Kenneth (Mark Duplass). Jeff tries to volunteer for the mission, but Kenneth, who’s a little twitchy and believes he’s being followed by government agents, doesn’t trust him. So Darius steps in as the possible time travel companion.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a story about people who don’t want to be in the situation they’re in and who want to go back to a time when things were better, or easier, or however we remember them. Darius never feels at ease in her life. Jeff wants to return to when he had no responsibilities and everything was easy. Arnau wants to be somewhere else, anywhere else. And Kenneth wants to return to…well, that’s not really that clear. (The movie’s dedication to hitting its themes in every scene, often to the point of annoyance.)
I liked the movie a lot, the way it swung between farce and pathos and had some really touching emotional stuff in it. Midway through the movie I found myself thinking, Wouldn’t it be cool if he really had a time machine? I liked the way that it’s a pretty small story (inspired by a real ad that a magazine put in its own classified ads as a lark) and doesn’t try to be more than that. The one big “action” scene is mostly hilarious (and pathetic). This is a movie that’s about people trying to get through their lives as best they can, whether it’s by being frozen (Darius), a douche (Jeff), an overachiever (Arnau), or a weirdo (Kenneth).
The downside of the movie is that it hits the “Women just want someone who’s really sincere, to the complete disregard for whether they’re batshit insane or not.” The romance in this movie is quite touching, except for the fact that Kenneth is clearly that guy that most of us cross the street to avoid. Sweet, and totally crazy.
I definitely recommend it, though: I’m becoming quite fond of movies that don’t assault my senses, and instead make me think more about the people involved.
Also, we’re living in the Mark Duplass Decade, so get used to him. (I can’t find a link to the EW story about him, but he’s everywhere all of a sudden.)