Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Netflix This: Safety Not Guaranteed

     This poster to the left is the hook that catches the viewer in Safety Not Guaranteed, a little film from last year that is heartfelt and touching and is about a man who claims he's building a time machine and the the reporters who try and get a story out of him. It's a tough movie to try and explain, and it's even harder to give reasons of why someone should watch it: it's part comedy, part sci-fi, part low-budget independent and always interesting. Jeff (Jake Johnson) is a writer for magazine who comes up with the idea for a story on this peculiar gentleman in a brainstorming session for interesting article ideas. For the short journey, he needs two interns to help him out along the way with background information. Darius (Aubrey Plaza in a starring role) is a lonesome and sarcastic young woman looking for a change and Arnau (Karan Soni) is a computer nerd who is completely unsuccessful with women.
     When we meet the so-called time traveler, named Kenneth, we find he's just a worker in a grocery store who seems nervous and has a concern that he's being followed by the government. Deciding that a female touch has a better chance of infiltrating Kenneth's (maybe insane) mind, Jeff sends Aubrey to learn more about the mysterious man. Kenneth is portrayed by Mark Duplass, who lately has been popping up in numerous indie quirky comedies that showcase his wit, sarcasm and strangeness (some viewers may also recognize him from FX's The League). He really shines in Safety Not Guaranteed as a man that you can't quite get a grasp on. Is he mentally ill? Does he just want to find his lost love? Or is he really a scientist with the ability to travel along the space-time continuum?
     Safety Not Guaranteed is better than typical low-budget eccentric indie comedies because the acting and script are top notch for this type of production. These are characters that seem real when they're speaking and getting into interesting situations--they're not just caricatures mass-produced by scriptwriters in a think tank fueled by too much coffee. Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass really shine as two individuals who slowly get to know each other and figure out that the real reasons they both want to travel back in time are important and life-affirming. And the ending is something to think about for days.

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