Friday, June 15, 2012
Movie review: Safety Not Guaranteed
Time travel comedy guarantees a great time at the movies.
It’s a rare and beautiful thing when you’ve got high expectations for a movie and it exceeds them. That happened with Safety Not Guaranteed, a little indie about an alleged time traveler. I expected it to be funny, but didn’t expect it to be so warm, witty, and wistful.
The movie takes its plot from an actual years-old classified ad that’s made its way to the annals of internet fame. “Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You will get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.”
Inspired by this ad, a Seattle writer (Jake Johnson) takes two interns (Aubrey Plaza and Karan Soni) out to Ocean View to interview the man who placed it (Mark Duplass). Actually, the writer wants to hook up with an old flame while his interns do all the work. This works perfectly for Plaza. She wants to break a big story so she can stop being the errand girl at the office. Plus, she recognizes the alleged time traveler as a kindred spirit.
Plaza is particularly fantastic in this movie, adding dimension to the I-hate-the-world persona she plays so perfectly on Parks and Recreation. Her scenes with Duplass feel organic, even as they’re discussing the physics of time travel. Duplass also turns in a great performance. Sure, he’s odd, but totally convincing. And the movie presents him sincerely. If you laugh at something he says, it’s because it’s funny, not because the movie wants you to laugh at him.
That’s because Derek Connolly’s script, which won an award at Sundance, is disarmingly funny and genuinely kind. Since many indie comedies are mean-spirited and cynical, it’s good to see a movie that believes in and roots for its characters to succeed and wants the audience to do the same.
It’s also great to watch how the characters transform over the course of the movie, from being defined by their quirks into living as fleshed-out characters. The plot also twists and turns, so you’re never sure if our alleged time traveler is telling the truth or just plain crazy.
Safety Not Guaranteed is one of the year’s most pleasant surprises. If you miss this one, you’re the one who’s just plain crazy.
For showtimes for Safety Not Guaranteed, click here.