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“Safety Not Guaranteed” – Good Film Is

Have you ever wanted to go back in time and correct a mistake you made? Have you ever thought back on your life and traced it to a single event where you wished you’d zigged instead of zagged? If someone gave you the opportunity to change your past, would you take it?

“Safety Not Guaranteed” asks those very questions in a heartfelt indie dramady kind of way. It’s sweet, and touching, and funny, and given it’s premise, incredibly grounded in reality.

A Seattle magazine hears about a classified ad in neighboring small town about a man seeking a partner to travel back in time with him. Thinking there might be a story, Jeff (Jake M. Johnson), a reporter for the magazine, goes with two interns to find out more. He sends one of the interns, Darius (Aubrey Plaza), to pose as a fellow time-traveler and investigate the man, Kenneth (Mark Duplass).

The plot of this movie is a bit absurd, but even more bizarre is how this idea came about. It was a real ad, sorta, that appeared in “Backwoods Home Magazine” in 1997. It was a filler ad written by John Silveira, an employee of the Oregon publication.

I thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I went in not really knowing what to expect. Sci-fi? Comedy? Action? Some jumbled up mess of everything? It’s a smaller independent film so it could have been anything. The film is a well-paced and thoughtful story of two strangers with regrets who form a bond.

My only criticism of this movie is the shaky cam. I don’t mind it when the characters are running through the woods or driving down the street, but when they’re standing still, so should the camera.
Other than that I loved it. The story, the characters, the actors, everything worked.

Everything about this movie feels real. Like Darius, you aren’t sure if Kenneth is a lunatic or if this is a big hoax. As you get to know him you find yourself rooting for him. It doesn’t matter what he believes, you want him to succeed. You find yourself actually believing he can travel through time even though nothing else in the movie supports that.

The script is tight and with a runtime of under 90 minutes, everything is done for a reason. The film never feels rushed and each of the characters is given a chance to shine. Even though it’s obviously Kenneth and Darius’ story, Jeff and the other intern Arnau (Karan Soni) have their own side plot that emphasizes the overall theme of the movie.

That theme is regret, and how you move forward. It’s a movie about loss and letting go of the past so you can look towards the future. It’s a movie about not missing the present. Nothing is guaranteed in life, there are no promises. “Safety” is a reminder to seize every opportunity you can.

The exciting climax and ambiguous ending of this clever movie will have believing that anything is possible.

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  1. Pingback: 2012 in Review: The Good, Bad, and In Between « i'm a movie nerd - December 28, 2012

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