Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Mary Lynn Rajskub
Running time: 86 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is a disillusioned college graduate who interns at Seattle Magazine. One of the magazine’s writers, Jeff (Jake Johnson), proposes to investigate a newspaper classified ad that reads:
“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”
Jeff selects Darius and [intern] Arnau (Karan Soni) to assist him. They travel to the seaside community of Ocean View to find and profile the person behind the ad [Kenneth (Mark Duplass)].
This film got the third highest number of votes when I asked all of you which film I should review next. Everyone was very enthusiastic about this one and I didn’t know what to do as I hadn’t really planned on reviewing it at all. Not because I thought it was bad but, sometimes, I’m just not sure what to say about a film. But I keep my promises so here goes…
I’d been wanting to see this ever since first hearing about the plot. It’s a great idea and I always love that – too many movies are so unoriginal these days. I know it was inspired by a real (joke) classified ad and think it’s great they were able to write a script around this simple idea. I really didn’t know where they’d go with the story.
I did think this was a good film and am glad I watched it but it was just missing *something* for me. Can’t quite put my finger on it. For one thing, from what I can gather, people seem to be big fans of some of the actors in this. That’s of course going to help people to enjoy a film. But I really didn’t (and still don’t) know anyone in Safety Not Guaranteed.
Aubrey Plaza was the best thing about the film for me – I can sort of see why people would already like her from other things she’s been in. I know she’s in a show called Parks And Recreation. I’m not a TV person so this show means nothing to me. Mark Duplass also means nothing to me. Not sure what he’s most famous for but know he makes movies with his brother Jay. I’ve watched one, Cyrus, which I had a hard time finishing. I think he’s certainly an acquired taste. As for his character in Safety Not Guaranteed, I couldn’t connect with him. He was a little too odd, a little too indie-movie-quirky misunderstood weird guy? I don’t know… Just didn’t quite work for me and I couldn’t help but think that Aubrey Plaza’s Darius should run away from him as he seemed the type to have bodies hidden underneath his floorboards.
As for the other characters, I ended up almost liking the story of Jeff (Jake Johnson) a bit more. His story is a little bit like that of Simon Pegg’s Gary King in The World’s End with the whole wanting to relive the past thing. Being my age I, unfortunately, am finding that I can relate to these sort of characters (way) too much. Arnau (Karan Soni) felt a little unnecessary – he seemed to mainly be there to help us understand and give more depth to the character of Jeff. I did think the two characters worked well together.
Safety Not Guaranteed takes a brilliantly simple story idea and gives us an intelligent script with some good complex characters. It ticks all the “indie” boxes but not in that annoying and needy way that some indie films do when they’re trying too hard. It’s a film that the casual cinema goer will probably hate (and may think is seriously going to be about time travel). As with many indie movies, it’s not for everyone. It’s about the characters and, if you can’t relate to at least one of them, you’re not going to enjoy the film. I did enjoy it but do wish I’d cared more for the character of Kenneth. It’s a film I think I should give another chance and re-watch sometime in the future. Anyone have a time machine? 😉
My Rating: 7/10