Synopsis: Three magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Running Length: 86 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Jones ~ Xola Malik
TMMM Score: (7/10)
Review: By this point in the history of film, romantic comedies are a dime a dozen. The plots follow the same formula and the outcome is always the same. I struggle with romantic dramadies because it takes a special kind of film to sway you into doubting the outcome you know is destined to occur. Safety Not Guaranteed is the latest rom-dram “Hail Mary” that seeks to upend our notions of predictable filmmaking…and actually succeeds.
Working from a script by newcomer Derek Connolly and directed by first time filmmaker Trevorrow, Safety Not Guaranteed is a wacky-in-a-good-way comedy that works on several levels to achieve something unique in film today. Since I had no idea where the film was going, I was never five steps ahead of the action onscreen and that forces you to stay in the moment and take in everything the same time the characters do.
Posing the question we’ve all asked ourselves before (“If we could travel back in time would we/could we/should we?”) but adding a romantic twist to it, the film benefits from a shorter running time because it clearly doesn’t want to be the last guy at the bar when final call is announced. Reflecting back on it now the movie has a clear agenda from the start but it envelops you in its charm from frame one.
Centrally focusing on journalistic intern Darius (Plaza who ranks a 6 on the Zooey Deschanel kooky-girl chart) and her relationship with Kenneth (Duplass) who may or may not have harnessed the power to travel in time, we follow her as she hides the fact she’s researching him for a story in a Seattle magazine. She’s assisting Jeff (Johnson) who has requested this assignment for personal reasons that occupy a weaker but not invaluable second storyline. The existence of a second intern (Soni) is a bit cloying as he is clearly there to be the resounding Voice of Reason when the time is right.
Even at 86 minutes the film could have been a little shorter had it not spent some extra time with Jeff romancing a high school flame and Darius accompanying Kenneth on any number of “covert” missions as he gathers intel and supplies before the big time travel journey.
“Will They or Won’t They” is a popular question for movies/series to direct at possible romantic entanglements. In this film the question applies in a two-fold manner. With such a smartly crafted and self-aware film such as this, one finds oneself wondering not only will our leads end up together…but will they have to travel through time to do so?
If you’re on the hunt for a non-mainstream film playing in mainstream cinemas, seek this one out. I found it a richly rewarding tale that is, um, safely recommended.