Safety Not Guaranteed
If you’re a fan of April from ‘Parks and Recreation’ and/or Nick from ‘New Girl’, stop wasting your time reading this review and ride through red lights to your nearest DVD store and buy ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’. If you’re not a fan, my questions are, “Why?” and “Wanna Fight?” For the rest of you who don’t know who I’m talking about, here’s my attempt to review a film that now comfortably sits in my top 10 films of all time.
Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is a cynical college grad interning at Seattle magazine. Jeff (Jake Johnson) is a conceited writer at the same magazine. And Kenneth (Mark Duplass) is a 30-something paranoid grocery clerk who put the following ad in the newspaper classifieds:
Wanted: Someone to back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.
With this ad at the crux of the story, Jeff is sent on assignment, with interns Darius and Amau (Karan Soni), an archetypal nerd studying biology and interning in the hopes of diversifying his resumé, to Ocean View, WA, to investigate the man who wrote the ad.
After Jeff’s failed attempts to get Kenneth to talk about his time-machine, we soon realize that Jeff is more interested in reuniting with his high school flame, Liz (Jenica Bergere), than finding out wether Doc Brown and Marty McFly could have ever been right. This leaves Darius seeing if she can use her womanly charm to get Kenneth to talk.
While practicing target shooting, hiding from supposed government agents, and inventing reasons why she wants to go back to the past, Darius realizes that she’s no longer pretending, she’s falling. Falling for Kenneth. She finds herself opening up to this bizarre and outlandish man, and her self-protective shell starts to crack.
At the same time, Jeff is opening up to the fact that relationships aren’t all about looks and beauty, and perhaps that in order to truly love, he’ll need to take on some responsibilities.
As all indie films seem to end, Safety Not Guaranteed leaves loose ends with an unconventional, yet somehow, it was a rather satisfying ending. I sat on the couch well after the credits, trying to ready myself to go back to my life in the real-world that now seemed decidedly boring.
I recently read a quote saying the Safety Not Guaranteed is “like a unicorn, but better.” It’s a smart, rom-com AND sci-fi. I’ve been wracking my brains trying to think about who wouldn’t enjoy it, yet to no avail. Maybe that’s because I’m surrounded by a bunch of geeks *waves to friends*. Although I’ve told everybody around me, to grab a copy – possibly even my mum – it’s not for everybody. The humor is subtle and the storyline is off-beat. If you’ve watched ‘Little Miss Sunshine’, ‘The Office’, ‘Parks and Recreation’, ‘New Girl’, ‘Arrested Development’, ‘Community’ or any other show/film along those lines, and NOT enjoyed it at all, probably stay away from this one, and stick to those blockbuster superhero films.
I don’t really want, or know how, to tell you more about this film without sounding like a crazy woman. But I can tell you that I freaking loved it. The humor was right up my alley and the mix of drama and humor, combined with the impeccable acting, heartfelt storyline, Ryan Miller’s cute musical score and the lack of faux hipsterness makes Safety Not Guaranteed the best film I’ve seen for a very long time.
M Offensive language and sexual references.
Reviewed by: Nerice Collins