Photo: Big Beach / FilmDistrict
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a small budget indie film that acts as a palate cleanser between summer blockbusters such as “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Dark Knight Rises.”Since “Moonrise Kingdom” may not be for everyone and “The Imposter” is currently only playing on one screen, give “Safety Not Guaranteed,” which was released June 19 in select theatres but is now playing at 182 venues nationwide, a chance.
5.) That person from that show you like is really good in it.
April from “Parks and Recreation” (Aubrey Plaza), Pete from “The League” (Mark Duplass), and Nick from “New Girl” (Jake Johnson) all excel in their respective roles.
Plaza’s deadpan demeanor fits perfectly in this particular movie about social outcasts struggling to connect with others.
The insanely busy Duplass has the flashiest part as the man who claims to time travel, and makes the most of it, adding heart and depth to a character that could have easily been a punchline.
Johnson revels in playing a jerk as opposed to the nice guy roles he is commonly seen in.
4.) A believable relationship.
The budding romance between Plaza’s Darius and Duplass’ Kenneth shouldn’t work for a number of reasons: it’s too obvious, it’s a cliched plot device, she’s too young. But when the chemistry is there, none of that matters. And the chemistry is there. You know that they’ll get together eventually, but after a few scenes, you’ll be rooting for it.
The B-plot involving Johnson’s Jeff and his attempt to rekindle an old flame shows similar promise but doesn’t go anywhere, the movie’s one glaring flaw.
3.) The story is fresh and original.
The film is based on a real advertisement in Backwoods Home Magazine:
Photo: Big Beach / FilmDistrict
“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.”
That’s where the true story ends. The rest of the plot is a fictionalized “what if,” sending a couple of reporters to find the person who took out the ad.
The result is worthy of a Best Screenplay Oscar nomination it sadly stands no chance of getting.
2.) It’s short.
Don’t underestimate the importance of this.
Everyone’s had a terrible indie film experience. When you see an art house, low budget film, there’s always the risk of it not being your particular cup of tea, regardless of what the glowing reviews tell you. At just 85 minutes (nearly an hour and a half – or a full movie – shorter than ‘Dark Knight Rises’), if you’re not buying into “Safety,” at least it’ll be over soon.
Likewise, the brisk pacing means the film never drags and every scene matters, two things that are crucial to a worthwhile indie.
1.) It doesn’t play out as expected.
For those expecting to laugh at Kenneth’s attempts to time travel, you may be surprised. Though a lot of the preparation for his “mission” is quite funny and unbelievable, whether or not he has successfully built a time machine isn’t as clear as one may think.
At first the questions the characters and audience ask are obvious:
Does he really believe he can time travel or is it simply a delusion to distract himself from past events? Is he crazy? If so, has he always been this way or did something cause him to end up like this?
By the middle of the movie though, that begins to change
Wait, are there actually people following him? What’s in that shed? Can he seriously time travel?
The reporters explore these same questions, and the audience gets to tag along for the ride. And it’s a ride worth taking.
Satisfaction guaranteed. Watch the trailer below.
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