Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed, while burdened with a far too cute genesis and production history, is adorable and ultimately a wonderful film. Everyone should see this clever, heartfelt, almost brilliant film.

Here’s a trailer:

Here are the deets:

Released October 18, 2012

Written by Derek Connolly

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Karan Soni, and Jeff Garlin

Rated: R

*     *     *     *     *

Story

Darius (Plaza) is working as an intern at a Seattle magazine after struggling to find work. She seems to feel a disconnect from the world around her. One of the magazine’s writers, Jeff (Johnson), suggests that the magazine do a feature on a strange ad that he’d found in which the ad poster seeks a partner for some time travel. The magazine’s editor sends Jeff and Darius, along with Arnau (Soni), to the smallish town where the ad originated.

They track down Kenneth (Duplass), the man who posted the ad, and Darius is selected to make contact with him. Darius and Kenneth hit it off well, while at the same time Jeff, who apparently used to vacation in this town as a youth, tracks down an old flame, dragging Arnau along sometimes.

Kenneth and Darius’ relationship develops into a close friendship, and then, of course, romance, as they prepare to go back in time. Kenneth refuses to show Darius the machine he’s going to use to transport them, but he assures her it is real. They even raid a science lab for equipment for the machine.

So we have a few relationships that the story follows: the rather adorable one between Darius and Kenneth, Jeff’s odd relationship with his old flame, and Jeff and Arnau’s somewhat ‘mentor/student’ relationship.

Add to all of this the possibility that Kenneth might actually be onto something, that Darius never told him that she was doing a story on him, and hat Kenneth might have government agents following him– and  you have some nice conflict.

All of which leads to a rather unexpected climax and resolution.

Critique

The premise is a little cute and precious, but it has been developed quite well and it also helps that the actors turn in some very good performances.

Darius is maybe a little too convenient with her incredibly clever dialogue, but Aubrey Plaza pulls the character off convincingly, showing us a Darius who longs for something different and outside the normal, expected world.

Duplass turns in a straightforward performance. There is no tongue in cheek and this very odd character is not morphed into a goofball or caricature. Duplass keeps Kenneth accessible and quite pleasant. This kind of guy might actually live down the road from many of us.

Jeff’s rank selfishness grates and we want him to redeem himself. Arnau is perhaps too naive. Some of the other characters are somewhat convenient.

But the adorableness and heart of Safety Not Guaranteed makes it easy to overlook these issues and just let yourself be carried by the sweetness between Kenneth and Darius.

And the ending is exactly right on.

Content warnings: Language, some sexual content

Writing: 4           Acting: 4.5          Overall: 4

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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