Safety Not Guaranteed is a charming Indie project with an original story and plenty of laughs. If it has a flaw, it’s that it’s actually so charming that it never truly dives into the heavier themes that it presents. Nevertheless, it leaves you thinking about the consequences of our actions and what we could change about our lives, if given the opportunity.
The story involves three magazine employees, interns Darius (Plaza) and Arnau (Soni), and writer Jeff (Johnson). They’re sent out on assignment to track down a man who has published a classified ad asking for a partner for time travel. The man, Kenneth (Duplass), claims to have time-traveled once before and his willing partner’s safety is not guaranteed. Positive that the ad is a joke and will make for an entertaining story, the three venture to rural Washington only to find out that Kenneth is dead serious – and his time-traveling could pose ramifications for everyone.
I learn that someone did, in fact, post an ad eerily similar to the one at the center of the film in Backwoods Home Magazine in 1997. Inspired, screenwriter Derek Connolly has crafted a witty, rousing screenplay that is never dull and always on the cusp of something miraculous. The characters are well-drawn and make us care about the consequences of Kenneth’s actions. Aubrey Plaza is excellent as the lead, showing vulnerability and a true desire to right a wrong in her life. Jake Johnson serves as the frequent comedic relief, as his Jeff is far more interested in digging up a former high school hook-up than having anything to do with Kenneth’s ad. As Kenneth, Duplass is spot on in his portrayal of a man who seems completely unhinged to the outside world, but has his brain work in strange and unusual ways. The much-talked about conclusion is satisfying and really provokes meaningful thought. Safety Not Guaranteed is an original worth seeking out.
Length: 86 Minutes
Rating: R for language including some sexual references.
Theatrical Release: June 8, 2012 (Limited)
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Derek Connolly
Cast: Jake M. Johnson, Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere