Safety Not Guaranteed Review (Kirk Haviland)

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni and Mark Duplass

Written by Derek Connolly

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Safety Not Guaranteed, the newest film from Alliance Films and produced by the Duplass Brothers, may end up being one of the hardest movies to categorize this year. Part Sci-fi time travel opus, part romantic comedy, part melodrama and all oddball quirky comedy, Safety rides a lot on the performances of its leads. But is it one of those films that can get buried under its own quirkiness?

We start off with Darius (Plaza) completely blowing a job interview for a job she clearly has no motivation to get, but since she is an unpaid intern at Seattle Magazine she really just wants the money. During a pitch meeting at the magazine Jeff (Johnson) pitches the idea of an article based on a strange classified ad he stumbled upon, wherein someone has advertised for a companion to travel back in time with them, bring you own weapons, safety not guaranteed. Intrigued by the ad Darius volunteers for assignment, as Jeff asks to take two interns along, and is soon packing for a trip down the coast with Jeff and fellow intern Arnau (Soni) to investigate the strange posting. Soon after they arrive we find out that Kenneth (Duplass) is the one who posted the article and Darius follows him after they discover this at the post office box he uses for mail inquiries. Jeff is immediately rebuffed by Kenneth as he tries to pretend that he is answering the ad, so Darius is sent in next and Kenneth is immediately taken. As Darius and Kenneth prepare for their journey through time and Jeff pursues a former flame, the real reason he took the assignment, incidents occur to challenge Darius’ faith as she may just be getting closer to Kenneth. And are there really people following him?

As stated earlier, Safety Not Guaranteed relies heavily on the luminescent Aubrey Plaza. She is pitch-perfect here, proving she can anchor a film and more, her ability puts other more famous romantic comedy actresses to shame. Even a scene simply running through a forest can take on so much more meaning with her facial expression. Duplass brings his usual proverbially shy and awkward mechanisms to Kenneth, but it works well for the character and he does do some good work here. Johnson and Soni provide most of the comedic work here and I found Johnson’s Jeff to be quite hilarious.

Yes it’s quirky and original, yes it has some of those Wes Anderson/P.T. Anderson style sensibilities, but it does have a story and it doesn’t bury itself under its quirkiness like so many others decide to do. Hardly a blockbuster in the making, yet good solid blockbuster counter-programming, Safety Not Guaranteed is a recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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