Movie review: Safety Not Guaranteed

July 23, 2012 – What would you do if you saw this ad in a newspaper?

“WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll be paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.”

I came across these words not in a newspaper ad, but on a movie poster and it immediately piqued my interest. It was the director (Colin Trevorrow) and writer (Derek Connolly) who stumbled upon this ad in an actual newspaper, and decided to build a screenplay around it.

I’ve never been a sci-fi fan, and pretty much stay away from movies that feature time travel because it’s been done to the extreme, and frankly, it bores me. That is, unless it involves Bill and Ted. I have a soft spot for them.

Still, “Safety Not Guaranteed” combines both sci-fi and time travel elements, but with a major dose of quirky, and that’s what won me over.

From the producers of “Little Miss Sunshine”, another eccentric movie I thoroughly enjoyed, this small budget flick debuted to limited release in June, and finally made it to Philadelphia on Friday. It could be described as indie meets geeky, but whatever you call it, it’s an attention grabber with its offbeat and highly original premise.

The set-up: Jeff (Jake Johnson) is a Seattle magazine writer who suggests to his editor that the newspaper ad would make an interesting feature. He takes two interns on the road to research the ad, sarcastic and depressed recent college grad Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and endearing computer nerd Arnau (Karan Soni). After they track down the man who placed the ad, a lonely grocery clerk named Kenneth (Mark Duplass), it’s Darius who befriends him and wins his trust.

Aside from a few cameo appearances from Jeff Garlin, of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” fame and Kristen Bell, the only other actor in the movie I am familiar with is Mark Duplass. But the movie is perfectly cast, and each unknown/indie artist lives up to the task. The story is witty and yet tugs at the heartstrings, and the characters are so fresh and flawed. While the bonds of faith and trust are tested, the end result will restore your hope in humanity.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a character driven piece, despite its “action-oriented” premise. Perhaps best of all, it’s completely unpredictable. And that’s always satisfying.


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A girl trying to live the dream.

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