When is a science fiction movie not a science fiction movie? When is a romantic comedy not a romantic comedy? When it’s Safety Not Guaranteed. But I’ll tell you what this movie definitely is: a real joy to watch.
When is a science fiction movie not a science fiction movie? When is a romantic comedy not a romantic comedy? When it’s Safety Not Guaranteed. But I’ll tell you what this movie definitely is: a real joy to watch. I’m really likng this sort of film. It falls in the same sort of category as a great little film called Happy Accidents. These two great films are good company.
In Safety Not Guaranteed, a magazine writer and his two interns take on an assignment investigating a man that has placed an ad seeking a companion for time travel.
I remember many months ago seeing an interenet meme of the ad this film is based on. My understaning is that it was a real ad someone placed, although it’s possible, in retrospect, that it may have been a planned stunt for this film. It was a long time ago, though, so I’m not sure. Either way, it’s a great funny ad, and a genius idea for a script. And it could have gone in a broad, wacky, Will Ferrell sort of way comedically in the hands of the wrong people – like Will Ferrell or Judd Apatow. Thankfully, it goes a very different way. It’s a more subtle sort of funny, and much smarter. And it really is, at it’s core, a romantic comedy with sci-fi elements. I mean, obvously; it’s about people from a magazine investigating the validity of a guy that’s seeking a companion to go time traveling with him.
But as you’re watching Safety Not Guaranteed, you realize that the title has a very double meaning. And it’s a rather touching meaning as well. There’s so much more here than the initial premise. And it unfolds without being too syrupy sweet or heavy handed. And yet it’s also not so uber hip like Juno was when it came out. This film is more geniune, and yet still has a great cast.
Aubry Plaza plays intern Darius, who feels perpetually outside looking in, never really jiving with the rest of her peers. She feels like she can’t connect with anyone. The other intern, Arnau, played by Karan Soni, is a 21 year old college student virgin nerd, uberly awkward. These two are interning for Jeff (Jake Johnson), who had really only taken this story because it’s located in a beach town where an old flame lives. Also, Jeff sort of takes Arnau under his wing and tries to get him laid for the first time. Both his, and Arnau’s story is handled more realistically than most people might have chosen, and there is some genuine emotion involved with both. Other notable cast members are Mary Lynn Rajskub, Jeff Garlin, and Lynn Shelton – everybody is great.
As Jeff’s attempt to befriend Kenneth, the guy that submitted the ad, goes quickly south, Darius is chosen to take a stab at it. She deftly succeeds simply by being herself; a bit gruff and straight-forward, and by acting likeshe has read the ad and wants to join Kenneth in his mission. Kenneth is played by Mark Duplass, who is finding quite some great work these days. We’ve reviewed some of his and his brother’s films here at CFN, and they are guys to watch. They make good films. Mark here is as good as ever, a seemingly normal guy that has a preposterous idea of making a time machine to travel to the past. THAT makes him seem like he might be crazy. Darius slowly finds herself intrigued by Kenneth. He’s a bit weird, an outsider, like the way she feels. Indeed eventually they begin to have feelings for one another. From here, I don’t really want to give any more info for fear of spoilers, and this is a film people should see.
Safety Not Guaranteed has characters you care about, it’s funny, and it culminates in such a way the you never really have to worry about any time travel conundrums. Just see it to know what I mean. It really is a wonderful and unique little film. Solid four kittenhands, no doubt.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, really glad I saw this.