Friday, June 22, 2012
Safety Not Guaranteed
I was excited to see Safety Not Guaranteed because it stars Jake Johnson, who plays Nick on TV's New Girl. However, actors Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza really steal the show, playing a man who thinks he can travel back in time and a girl who agrees to go with him, respectively.
As the movie opens, we see Darius (Aubrey Plaza, TV's Parks and Recreation) interviewing for a job, and boring her interviewer by retelling almost her entire life story. She's graduated from college and is currently an intern at Seattle Magazine, where she accomplishes such exciting tasks as stocking the restroom with toilet paper. When one of the writers, Jeff (Jake Johnson), pitches a story about a newspaper ad he saw, Darius jumps at the chance to work with him, and Jeff chooses her and another intern, Arnau (Karan Soni, 1600 Penn), to travel with him and stake out the man's Post Office box.
The ad reads: "WANTED: Someone 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." Intriguing, right? The team's first matter of business is to find out who wrote the ad, and when they find the man, named Kenneth (Mark Duplass, Greenberg), Jeff approaches him at his house. Kenneth doesn't trust Jeff, though, so soon Jeff sends in Darius, who wins Kenneth over with her "intensity," as he says. Soon she and Kenneth are meeting every day to prepare for the "mission," as he calls it, and although he's definitely not "all there," she finds herself attracted to him. At the same time, Jeff is meeting up with an old girlfriend, Liz (Jenica Bergere, Coming & Going), and is encouraging Arnau to "hook up" with a girl he meets on the trip too.
The film is actually a love story, even though it's not being marketed as such, and the way in which the film weaves these threads in was done very well. Darius lives at home with her dad and doesn't get the opportunity to meet many guys, while Arnau has a similar predicament - he's a 22-year-old virgin nerd who is too intensely focused on his education to date. Jeff, on the other hand, thinks himself to be a player, but he can't stop thinking about Liz, with whom he had a fling when they were 18. The movie also shows us a bit of Kenneth's life, and near the end we learn he's not half as crazy as he initially appeared to be.
Yes, see this film. The movie had lots of laughs throughout it, and the end has a riveting scene that was actually really cool to watch, though it does leave it open to interpretation from the audience. I don't watch Parks and Recreation, so I haven't really seen Audrey Plaza in much, but she did impress me with her performance. She's being billed as the new Zooey Deschanel for indie films, though I have to say she's more like the anti-Deschanel - she wooes us with her deadpan looks and seriousness rather than being "adorkable," as Deschanel has been described. Jake Johnson was fine here too, though I prefer him on New Girl, and Karan Soni was good as the stereotypical "computer nerd" who isn't great at talking to girls. Fans of the indie genre will definitely enjoy Safety Not Guaranteed, but really anyone who likes a good story - maybe one that's a bit atypical, too - will enjoy this film.
Safety Not Guaranteed is in theaters today, June 22nd, and is rated R with a runtime of 85 minutes. In the Detroit area, it will be playing at the Birmingham 8. 3.5 stars out of 5.