Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

style="float: right; margin-bottom: 10px; font-weight: 600;"Thu 10th Jan, 2013

"Safety Not Guaranteed" stars Jake Johnson, Aubrey Plaza and Karan Soni as a newspaper reporter and his two interns who decide to respond to a newspaper ad requesting a companion for an unusual voyage - a voyage back in time. "Must bring your own weapons... Safety not guaranteed."

Darius (Plaza) is chosen as the official applicant and befriends self-proclaimed time-traveller Kenneth (Mark Duplass), who puts her through rigorous training to prepare her for their journey!  Is he a genius, a prankster, or is he just nuts? Meanwhile Jeff (Johnson) attempts to reunite with the girl who got away.

This film is not fast-paced, nor is it action-packed, rather, it is a sweet and sympathetic look at those people who don't feel they fit in with the world or who don't feel like their lives have taken them where they wanted to go. Darius, Kenneth and Jeff  all believe their best years are behind them. The question this film asks of its audience - and the question Kenneth asks of his would-be companion - is, do you have any regrets? And, if so, would you go back and change things if you could?

What really makes this film is the subtle and moving relationship between Darius and Kenneth. In many ways you could say this film is quite clichéd - oddball who doesn't fit in anywhere meets fellow outcast; it's not a formula that hasn't been attempted many times before. However, the intriguing and at times hilarious setting for this coming together of loners allows this story to stand above the rest.

Duplass is incredibly endearing as lonely time-traveller Kenneth. He lacks any self-awareness and is utterly removed from reality, but the film is not actually making fun of him. Even if he is absolutely bonkers and you know time travel is impossible, you, along with our three reporters, end up dying to see his mysterious machine work!

Aubrey Plaza does very well to hold the story together. She has become the master of playing cynical, sarcastic characters who just wish the world would go away. In this performance she has managed to tone down her "kill all humans" attitude, adding a little hope and affection, creating a more likable character than her usual performances.

As I started to watch this film, I was not so sure that my choice had been the right one. It was perfectly watchable but it did not seem particularly impressive or memorable. Yet as the film developed and especially after leaving the cinema, I realised that it had truly moved me and brightened my spirits. As you leave the cinema and go about your business, you can't help but keep thinking back to it and that's how you can tell a film was worth watching.

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