A journalist and his two interns travel cross-country to investigate a man and his add in the paper regarding a partner needed for his attempts at time travel. It’s only when one of the interns get too close with the odd individual and his theory on time travel that things start to become all the more complicated. Is Safety Not Guaranteed a heartfelt Dramedy with originality and real characters? Or is it just another American Indie flick with guitar strumming, road trips and quirkiness bursting through the seams? Find out after the jump.
Aubrey Plaza stars as Darius, a twenty something year old outcast who interns for a magazine that she’d never read. She feels alone and at some times mistreated, even as an intern. It’s only until she’s picked up for a story by her boss, Jeff (Jake Johnson), a writer for the magazine that she feels even remotely utilised; the story itself however is a strange one. They’re assigned to investigate and interview a man from a coastal town who has written an ad in the classifieds advertising a +1 position to join him in travelling back in time. It’s written in all seriousness and of course the final line in the ad states “Safety not guaranteed”.
Arnau (Karan Soni), a young yet socially awkward individual is the third member of the group who head out to investigate the story behind the ad. Jeff makes it his mission to get Arnau out there and make him more sociable and cool (forget about the reporting work they were actually meant to do..). Darius however, is assigned to pose someone interested in being a partner on this trip, so to get closer to the peculiar fellow who posted it, Kenneth (Mark Duplass). They each interact with each other and make human connections stronger than they ever expected, but when all is said and done, they’re still on an assignment and the question is raised, can Kenneth really time travel? Or is he as strange and deranged as he seems?
Based on a real ad written in 1998, Safety Not Guaranteed has wonderful moments and solid character development bu*review is interrupted by melodic guitar strumming score*…
The film unfortunately falls for American indie clichés and quirky moments all too often which jeopardize the heartfelt connections these characters make. The performances are all stellar including Jake Johnson and Aubrey Plaza with just about every actor giving it their all. One of the other problems I had with the film despite the wonderful performances was that I cared more for Jeff and Arnau rather than Darius and Kenneth’s friendship. Jeff’s character, to me was the strongest, getting the arc his character deserves. He at first comes across as douchey yet ultimately pays off as a character wanting to love and help (as we see with his interactions with Arnau). However, this sadly overshadows Kenneth and Darius’ growing relationship which is almost always on the forefront. We like them but not enough to know that it’s nothing we haven’t seen before. Colin Trevorrow’s direction is simple but at times lacking; however it is commendable considering the budget they had ($750, 000), and it still accomplishes a decent amount regardless.
Despite sub-plots being stronger than protagonist interactions and enough American Indie clichés to poke a stick at (road trip, slow guitar strumming, quirky moments involving karate moves and awkward standing positions), Safety Not Guaranteed is still a rather sweet film that doesn’t outstay its welcome and is charming and enjoyable, unfortunately just nothing more substantial.
By Chris Elena
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Writer(s): Derek Connolly
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Mark Duplass, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere
Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date(s): Australia & New Zealand: October 18, 2012; USA: June 8, 2012