The only thing that saddens me about this little gem of a movie is that it may not be seen by anyone.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a fresh approach to romance. Two of its characters are focused on time — wanting to go back in time, that is. One wants to return via a visit to a former lover and the other has built a time machine.
Darius (Aubrey Plaza, television’s “Parks and Recreation”) is a mopey intern at a Seattle newspaper. She and another intern, Arnau (Karan Soni) accompany reporter Jeff (Jake M. Johnson, “21 Jump Street”) on an interesting story. Someone has paid for a classified ad that asks for someone to accompany him or her “back in time.” Payment is promised upon return. Oh, yes, and whoever hires on for the job must bring their own weapons. Of course, safety is not guaranteed.
Part of the fun is watching the unlikely trio of journalists track down the fellow who has placed the ad. He turns out to be Kenneth (Mark Duplass, “People Like Us”), an oddball, not surprisingly, who works in a supermarket.
Darius actually talks briefly to Kenneth to try to get him to invite her to go on his time-travel journey with him. Meanwhile, Jeff does nothing but think about, and finally track down, his lost love from years before.
At first, Darius does everything she can to make Kenneth believe she wants to travel back in time. She listens to him and seems sympathetic. As she gets to know him, she realizes he’s intelligent, very serious about his project and seems to be good-hearted, too. She also realizes that Kenneth, who will stop at nothing to accomplish his goal, believes federal agents are following him … and that might be a possibility.
Jeff, who does indeed track down his former summer lover, can’t decide whether he really could go back to a happier time in his life. All the while, he badgers Arnau to have some fun and get to a know a girl — any girl — so he’ll have something to remember.
Director Colin Trevorrow, helming his first feature film, shows that he knows his stuff. The movie is beautiful to watch, with a lot of gentle, romantic moments as well as screwball chase scenes. The characters all are likeable and the comedy is never mean-spirited. It’s a true “indie film” that might not have had a big budget but certainly has a lot of smarts.
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"Safety Not Guaranteed"
Running time: 95 minutes
Rated: R for sexual situations and foul language