WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.
Safety Not Guaranteed follows Jeff (Jake Johnson), a cocky writer at magazine who spots an ad in the classifieds that mentions time travel. Jeff wants to investigate the man behind the ad. With the help of two interns, Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni), they set out on a trip to Ocean View, Washington to find the man.
The team is able to track down the guy who placed the ad. He is a man named Kenneth(Mark Duplass) who is in his 30’s working at a supermarket. Kenneth is resistant when confronted with the hard hitting efforts made by Jeff. Darius, using her sarcasm and deadpan humor, is able to quickly form a bond with him. Kenneth will take Darius along with him in his time machine. Kenneth wants to travel back to 2001 to save a girlfriend who died.
Safety Not Guaranteed, produced for just $750,000, is a film that enhances the mumblecore films that have come before it. It has a characters that are putting their quirky natures to use. The dialogue is great. Mark and Jay Duplass, producers on the film, helped start the movement with films like The Puffy Chair and The Do-Deca-Pentathlon.
The film is based upon an actual newspaper article. The inspiration for the script came from a 1997 Backwoods Home Magazine classified ad written by an employee as a joke filler.
The film’s performances are great. Mark Duplass shows how versatile an actor he is. Known very well for his award-winning directing and writing, Duplass brings something special to the character of Kenneth. Kenneth is odd but there are reasons for it. Duplass nails the job of giving long bursts of lines and making them all count. Aubrey Plaza shines in her first starring role. Plaza demonstrates more beyond her already widely known deadpan skills that she does on NBC’s Park’s and Recreation. Plaza play the role of Darius, a sarcastic recent college grad, very well. Plaza and Duplass are the standout performers of the film.
The film is vague when it comes to whether time travelling actually takes place or not. Nonetheless, the writer, director and actors provide a solid film to remember.
Derek Connolly, screenwriter for the film, won both the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance and the Independent Spirit Award for Best First Screenplay.
Image by FilmDistrict from http://www.imdb.com/