Title: Safety Not Guaranteed
Genre(s): Comedy, Drama
Director(s): Colin Trevorrow
Release Year: 2012
Rotten Tomatoes: 91%
I have always had a hard time convincing myself to go see an indie film, even if it has had great reviews and tons of praise. The reason being that there’s a certain pretentiousness that tends to emanate from films like that, but on the upside, there’s almost always an interesting plot and serviceable acting that helps make the film that much more. When I went to go see Safety Not Guaranteed (in limited release right now), my expectations were somewhat middling despite the great reviews it’s had so far. Even when the film started I still felt weary that it was just going to be a pretentious mess, especially because of Aubrey Plaza’s deadpan acting style. Fortunately, the film delivered so much more than I expected, and Aubrey delivered a great performance. On top of that, the movie left the audience in a state of awe that I have not experienced in a long while.
Safety Not Guaranteed takes no time getting into the actual plot, which consists of a journalist and two interns going on a journey to find a guy who believes he can travel back in time. The premise is loosely based off of a classified article that has been circling the web for a long time. When we meet Kenneth, the guy who posted the ad (played masterfully by Mark Duplass), we instantly clue into the fact that this character is not fully sane and with that we are in the same position as the journalists. Darius (Plaza) is set forth to become friends with Kenneth and find out what exactly is going on with him, and why he thinks he can go back in time. What takes place afterwards is a series of events between all the characters that begs the question, if you could go back in time, what would you change? And why would you change it?
The drawbacks to this film come from looking at the actual sequence of events that occur. While never was I really bored, there were many instances of the movie simply going through the motions and it has that typical moment where one character feels like no one else understands someone like they do. But beyond the cliches, the film manages to make you care about the characters even though some have unlikable traits. Every plot development made me more and more interested, but really, it’s the endpoint of the film that had me hooked. I wore a smile during the entire final minutes of the film, showing exactly what is right with this film. When it tries to evoke an emotion, it does it easily, letting you forget the past and enjoy the moments it wants you to really enjoy. But it’s also the fact that they managed to essentially provide two different storylines without them ever feeling too disconnected from each other, and even contrasting one another. One character wants to relive a time they had, while the other wants to live a time they never quite got. It’s a very simple, yet emotionally moving thought that helps reveal the movie’s core intentions.
That being said, the movie isn’t guaranteed to please everyone, but for fans of films like Little Miss Sunshine (it’s even produced by the same producers) there will be a lot to enjoy in Safety Not Guaranteed. The film suffers from some problems, but they never really make you lose interest in the film, and the last half hour of the film makes up for every problem you may have had. The acting by everyone is great and every scene is shot in the way that feels most natural. If there’s one indie comedy you see this year, make it Safety Not Guaranteed because it will likely make it onto my top 10 list of 2012, and many other critics.