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When a man puts a classified ad in the newspaper asking for a companion
to time travel with him, a magazine writer and two interns go find him
to find out his story. Aubrey Plaza plays Darius, one of the interns
who at first seems pretty disinterested in the whole situation, ends up
being the one who has to pretend like she wants to time travel. She
expects to be working with a total nutjob, completely off his rocker,
but instead she finds that Kenneth, the man who put the ad in the
paper, is actually an incredible insightful, sweet, and softhearted
person and that time traveling is more a facade for finding yourself
and it's more of a metaphor for fixing old mistakes. It's a
surprisingly touching film that has a lot more to offer than one might
Great dramadies are few and far between these days. They are usually too unfocused, can't find that perfect balance between comedy and drama, and try too hard to be profound when it comes to taking a look at the human condition. Safety Not Guaranteed finds a way past all these things. It has a clear and poignant focus that drives a heartfelt and oddly moving story. It's a great blend of comedy and drama as it tells a great story on a very human level, but also delivers its own pleasant brand of comedy. It's more clever comedy than laugh out loud comedy, but it fits just right for what this movie is trying to accomplish.
Safety Not Guaranteed could have easily been a sham and it could have gone too far overboard on its profundities. Instead, the excellent script keeps itself at bay and manages to tell a story that is more sincere than one would expect and feels more real than a dramady that is trying to be the most realistic of human stories. There's nothing here that will floor you or blow you out of the water, but it truly is a lovely and heartwarming story.
Normally feel good movies aren't my thing, but Safety Not Guaranteed is sincere enough and of a quality that makes it an absolute joy to watch. That being said, I don't know that I'd watch it again, and I wouldn't call it a masterpiece, but it's great for one viewing and it's an hour and a half well spent. I would certainly recommend it to anyone with a heart.
A wonderful film. The story is science fiction, fantasy and real-life relationships. The plot is unique (I know some reviewers have likened it to the back to the future series which was for fun and was fun). It is not only funny, (laugh out loud funny) but mysterious as to what is really going on and stir in some fantasy and science fiction-- but underneath is the inspection of all human beings and their lives and relationships. The casting was superb and the scenic northwest photography was great, I didn't know any of the actors but suffice to say they were chosen by a director of amazing talent. His idea his plot and his script were really really fine. I saw it in LA in Burbank and the audience was mostly the internet set and they loved it. All of their generations electronic things were a big part of the film, but this masterful director reached me, a senior--explaining the kids and yet reaching me with the love stories and those of friendship. Thus the director brought the old universal story of love among all of us. I can only say he is in for a tough career because with this film he has set the bar for himself and his crew very very high. Based on this work he will be great!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Every so often I stumble across the kind of film that captures both
heart and soul, the kind of film that makes me laugh and cry, makes me
scoot forward on the edge of my seat, not because of the thrill of the
chase or the climax of dramatic tension, but simply because I am
cheering for the characters to make it! Because somehow my hope has
found a way to attach to the hope of the characters, because I have
felt strangely welcomed into their journey, because I am longing to
believe that this world is more than a cold, cynical place, and that
something beyond the natural may just be possible. There are lots of
"feel-good" movies about relationships and love, but not quite as many
that touch a chord deep within all of us that is usually reserved for
the realm of religion or spiritual experience. Sometimes, a movie is
made that feels transcendent. For me, that is how I left the theater
after watching Safety Not Guaranteed at Sundance. It helped that the
packed theater erupted in a cathartic cheer at the movie's final
moment, which tells me that something else was going on for my fellow
film-goers as well. In short, I think that this funny, engaging,
interesting, character-driven, heart-warming independent film shot on a
shoestring budget on location in Oregon touched that part in all of us
that longs to believe in the unbelievable, that wonders if the
"impossible" might, just might possibly be true after all.
Safety Not Guaranteed is about Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a man who is creating a time machine and places an ad in a local classifieds looking for a partner to time travel with him. The ad tells readers: "This is not a joke. Bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed." Intrigued, a local magazine decides to send a staff-writer (who has his own time-travel agenda of revisiting a 20 year old high-school first love) and two interns to find the author and see how crazy he really is. The film weaves the boy-meets-girl main storyline with two sub-plots of self-discovery: the thirty-something writer's encounter with his old high school fling, and the classic-nerd intern encouraged to make his own youthful fling. Initially playing the part, Darius the intern (Aubrey Plaza) starts to fall for a man driven by his passion, with whom she finds a connection in her own past pain and regret. Not your Back To the Future time travel story, we never see the machine until the end, and the director leaves us wondering if it even exists. And yet, we are led masterfully throughout the narrative to long for, maybe even start to believe that Kenneth is "for real" and that he has stumbled onto the kind of adventure that transcends the pain of the ordinary present. Without this hope for the impossible, this longing for "another world," Safety Not Guaranteed would be just like any other romantic comedy where the misfit get the girl, and the cynical girl forgives herself and opens her heart to love.
The beauty of the film is in its hope-filled longing, its call to believe. We stand at the lake beside the time machine with Darius, watching Kenneth stretch his hand out and ask us to take a step of faith, to put into action what we have been secretly hoping was possible. For the first time Darius has to take a real step to truly believe, which is a great conclusion to the film. Isn't that the heart of faith in God? There are many who say they believe and hope very much that it is all true. But in the end, are we willing to step out onto the boat and commit, when the outstretched hand beckons us to put our trust in Another and when the whole thing looks rather silly or (worse), rather crazy? Such is the story we are all asked to live, and a movie like Safety Guaranteed gets an audience standing ovation because we know Darius' step of faith is ours as well.
LOGLINE: Mark Duplass (Puffy Chair & Humpday) plays Kenneth, the local
small town weirdo who bags groceries and places a classified ad seeking
a companion for time travel. Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation & Funny
People) plays Darius, an intern sent in on assignment with her
co-workers (Jake M. Johnson & Karan Soni) to secretly pose as potential
time travel candidates and get the scoop for the entertainment
Obviously the guy is an insane wack-job or is he? As Darius gets in closer with Kenneth and slowly finds out more and more about him, she isn't so sure anymore. Can this guy actually do what he claims, or is he so far off his rocker that he has lost all sight of reality? Writer Derek Connolly weaves in and out the possibilities of what is true and keeps the audience guessing until the film's final second payoff.
Actors Duplass and Plaza are so great radiating weirdness off of each other. The two form an unusual friendship that rings true in every detail. Jake M. Johnson (New Girl) and Karan Soni add several laughs to the bizarre yet hilarious story. The film had many chances to lose sight of believability, but finds a way to stay on course.
The film's ending left me torn. No matter if you are the kind of person rooting for Kenneth to be vindicated, or believe he is crazy all along the story keeps you hooked until the credits roll. Safety Not Guaranteed was a breakout hit from the Sundance Film Festival, and contains the spirit of what independent films strive to be. It's authentic, creative, unusual, and a breath of fresh air. It's fun to see what independent filmmakers come up with when they aren't restrained by the annoyance of making every viewer happy. If you are up for something different do yourself a favor and see this one.
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With a budget of perhaps 10 box tops from some Cocoa Puffs, this film
managed to be the most entertaining thing I've seen all year. The
entire cast fits together and play off each other in a delightful way
and the ending is great without being sappy sweet or maudlin.
I don't want to get into the plot, but Aubrey Plaza's debut as a lead actress is right on target and I see much success for her in the future in a lot more movies. Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson are excellent, and that new kid Karan Soni...well, you'll be seeing more of him in the future is my guess.
This is a film I would see again and again, each time it appears in the future. I would take a date to it, I would take kids to it, I would go by myself.
I would see it in a box, I would see it with a fox, I would see it at your house, I would see it with a mouse, I would see it here or there, I would see it anywhere! You'll like Safety Not Guaranteed, go see it now, be safe, Godspeed!
I enjoyed every minute of this movie. Every character was memorable and
superbly portrayed. It was sweet and at the same time had a cutting
edge especially if you read between the lines.
The story was incredibly well crafted and will stand the test of time because it left just the right amount to the imagination. It was a fairy tale, but a beautifully told and very human one.
This was a movie crafted with care from both the mind and the heart. I also saw Prometheus this summer and found it sterile, empty and pointless, everything this movie isn't.
But in the end it was the characters and writing that made this movie so enjoyable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
From the get go I expected this movie to be my favorite at Sundance. It was. It was charming, witty, quirky and totally kicked ass chuck norris style. You get to know several characters and each has their moment in the sun, though Aubrey gets the bulk of the great lines. There could have been even more of her deadpan delivers. That would have suited me fine. The writer did do a good job of balancing the story lines and showed intimate aspects of each character. I'm not sure how believable the relationship was between the main characters, but that didn't bother me too much (i was probably just jealous i wasn't building my own time machine to pick up chicks). While the movie seems to survive mostly on simple ideas and witty remarks, I wanted to go on that adventure too. He lived in a world that was about as normal as you can get in hick-sticks, USA. Like most of us as we get a little older, adventure passes us and is replaced by juice boxes and diaper changes. This move appeals to all kinds and touches us in memorable ways. Even if you don't have a time machine, you can always add a little adventure in your life and you can appreciate it even more when you have a partner you can trust with your life--safety not guaranteed though. ;o)
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Grocery clerk Kenneth (Mark Duplass) places an ad in a local paper asking for someone to go with him as he time travels. He says they'll be paid once they return but safety isn't guaranteed as he's only done this once before. A magazine writer (Jake Johnson) hears about the story and takes a long a couple interns, one named Darius (Aubrey Plaza), quickly gets caught up with the time traveler as she applies for the job without him knowing that she's actually on a job. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is a pretty strange film to classify because it's part comedy and there are certainly some very light moments but the film also has a tremendous heart, which lets the characters actually be characters and this leads to some pretty dramatic moments. I guess the best way to classify this film is just by calling it life because it pretty much has a little bit of everything in it. What I found so good about the picture is simply how cute and charming it actually is. The reporters go into this story expecting to find a crazy man because we all know that time travel can't happen. What works so well with the film is the fact that you makes you believe that these type of things are possible and you really get caught up with all the characters and their situations. By the time the movie is over, and I won't spoil the ending, you're leaving the theater with a smile on your face no matter what your brain might tell you afterwards. Duplass and Plaza are simply perfect together as both of them bring the weirdness and loneliness out of their characters but they also have such a warm and wonderful chemistry that you can't help but fall for both of them. I also thought Johnson was extremely good in his supporting role as is Karan Soni as the other intern. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is really a magical little gem that is a breath of fresh air if you're wanting to get away from the loud blockbusters of the summer.
Travel in time is definitely my favorite sub-genus of science fiction,
and even though I equally adore the creativity of the Back to the
Future trilogy, the historical humor of Bill and Ted's Excellent
Adventure and the apocalyptic solemnity of The Terminator, I also
appreciate the independent films which deal the subject with more
sobriety and philosophy. Films like Primer and Suspension have
compensated their low budget and visual simplicity with provocative
ideas which leave the mechanics of travel aside in order to focus on
the melodrama created by the characters, proving that there's no need
of flying cars or phone booths when there's an ingenious narrative
inhabited by realistic and interesting human beings. Even though I
didn't like it as much as Primer or Suspension, the film Safety Not
Guaranteed fits into that group, even though it doesn't necessarily
include too much time travel. Or maybe it does. I'm not sure...but that
uncertainty is one of the best elements from this film.
Safety Not Guaranteed isn't a traditional sci-fi film. There may be time travel, there may be not...but the point of the screenplay isn't finding temporal paradoxes nor playing with historical chronology, but gradually discovering the nature and interaction between interesting characters, each one of them focused into their own "adventure". Screenwriter Derek Connolly built a complex but accessible narrative tapestry, free of unnecessary filler and with ingenious parallels which aren't always apparent, but eventually lead us to a satisfactory ending.
Connolly shows an efficient control over the multiple sub-plots, and they all share subjects in common. And then, we have the perfect performances from the whole cast. Mark Duplass brings a simultaneously likable and mysterious personality to his character, something which is very appropriate. Jake Johnson is very funny in his role; his performance is similar to the one he brings in the sitcom New Girl, even though it feels more emotive and sincere in here. Karan Soni is credible in his character, and supports the other actors very well. However, the revelation of Safety Not Guaranteed is definitely Aubrey Plaza, who is able to express multiple emotional levels with the grim face and cynical attitude of her character.
On the negative side of Safety Not Guaranteed, I can't deny that there are a few pretentious and auto-indulgent scenes. And even though Ryan Miller's score generally complements the scenes well, it occasionally feels a bit affected. Nevertheless, I think Safety Not Guaranteed is a very good movie, and I can recommend it mainly because of its screenplay and its performances.
If you like smart dialogue, an imaginative narrative, and well
developed character, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is your film. The premise is
well articulated with believable relationships portrayed by a talented
cast. Audrey Plaza's star turn took the dopey outsider and added her
own understated charm that illuminated every frame, especially the
campfire scene with Mark Duplass. His performance was perhaps the
riskiest.....playing a lonely but driven crusader whose character took
a little from FISHER KING, a little from HEROS, a little more from
BEAUTIFUL MIND and added a touch of STARMAN.
The ending might have seemed contrived without the sincerity of director Colin Trevorrow. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED was certainly the best film I've seen so far this summer especially after my disappointment with Wes Anderson's most recent effort. It was its last night in Tallahasee attended by perhaps only a dozen people.....surprisingly many stag guys who weren't afraid to laugh out loud. I wonder how many of them were time travelers.
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