Safety Not Guaranteed
Big Beach Films
Now Showing at: Esquire Theatre and AMC Newport on the Levee
Review by: Larry Thomas
The only thing I can guarantee you about the new film Safety Not Guaranteed is that very likely you’ve never heard of it. This next-to-no-budget charmer begins in the office of Seattle Magazine at an editorial meeting. Desperate for an out-of-town assignment, one of the writers suggests an investigative piece on whoever placed a classified ad in the newspaper looking for a companion in time travel. Is this person whimsical, nuts, or the real deal? Jeff, the writer, takes along two interns along to assist: Arnau, a twenty-something Indian student, and Darius, a depressed young woman who is at complete loose ends, both in her life and career choices.
In his theatrical film debut, director Colin Trevorrow manages things quite capably in handling the quirky, clever script by Derek Connolly, who is also making his maiden voyage into film.
Fortunately for us all, these two talented guys are blessed with an unknown, but terrific cast who breathes life into these characters. Aubrey Plaza, who had a series role on the TV show “Parks and Recreation”, is just delightful as Darius. She’s a great combination of funny, sad, scared, yet still in search of something. Jake Johnson is Jeff, the writer, and he’s brash, egotistical and the personification of a guy you don’t want your sister to date. Karin Sony as Arnau has the least to do on screen, but does it well. Actor-writer-producer Mark Duplass, who usually works as a filmmaking team with his brother Jay, is the elusive Kenneth, who placed the ad. Is he just another sci-fi loony, or does he really know more than people may think. The one question he always asks people who inquire about his plan is “why do you want to go back?” And we want to know the same thing from him.
As in any really good film, Safety Not Guaranteed gets you totally involved in these, and a couple of other characters. All have secrets to reveal and regrets needing to heal, but you have to see the film to totally appreciate the full flavor of this brilliant little indie production. Without spoiling anything, I can tell you that the title comes from a phrase in the original classified ad looking for a time travel companion. AND…it was a real classified ad in a real newspaper.
Once you piece all that together with what happens in the story, you’ll find lots of material for thought and discussion. It’s wry, touching, very funny, mystical, and just oh so good. In its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, Safety Not Guaranteed earned a standing ovation from the audience. That’s high praise indeed from an audience who probably sees more films in a year than we do in a lifetime.
The R-rated Safety Not Guaranteed is now showing on a full schedule at the Esquire Theatre, and one matinee showing at AMC Newport on the Levee.