Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a very lovely indie comedy inspired by a classified ad that was published in a Magazine back in 1997 about a person asking someone to accompany him in the time travel. The ad was something like this: "Wanted: Somebody 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." Now get this right, this movie isn't about time travel, its not a science fiction movie, its a basic indie comedy with just a hint of sci fi, romance and drama. I always have a special place for movies like these in my heart, i don't like it when people ignore such kind of movies because they are too small, nothing that will please them as much as big budget dumb action movies will do. For me, i always find these movies comforting, profoundly moving and the laughs here are very genuine. Movies like these can literally take any subject and present them in their own unique way, you tend to overlook the cynicism. So the movie begins with Darius Britt (Plaza) who is this very straight forward college graduate living with her father. She is without any illusions or usual complicated feelings about her life. She is an intern at a Seattle magazine. One of the writers, Jeff Schwensen (Johnson) one day proposes an idea to investigate that classified ad and selects her and another intern, Arnau (Soni) to assist him. Arnau is a Biology major, he wants to diversify his resume so that is why he is an intern there. So first they have to find and profile the person who is behind the ad for which they travel to seaside community of Ocean View, Washington. We later find out that there is a motive behind Jeff traveling all the way here for this assignment, which is to track down his long lost love. That man turns out to be Kenneth Calloway (Duplass), Jeff messes up his attempt to contact him so Darius has to do the honors.
Safety Not Guaranteed is not interested in anything but showing how these people are so much more than they look or believe to be. At first, every single character seems quite ordinary and even annoying in a sense that there is nothing about them that is worth your attention or any other emotion. But slowly as we get to know everyone, we see a new side to them. They have depth that you rarely see in characters these days in most of the movies, let alone a comedy. Jeff seems like a guy who will trash up your every idea because it doesn't pleases him, he'll do whatever he want and wont give a damn about you. That is very annoying indeed, later we discover why he is like this and what led him there. Darius seems like a girl who is far mature than any other girls of her age, she knows everything there is to know and she doesn't need anyone to define her. Darius is her own girl but as you see later on in the movie, she discovers a reality that is much bigger than her perception about love, life in general and how far you can go for things that are important to you. Kenneth is well not literally a complicated person but he is the oddest of them all, doesn't that explains the weird ad? He is paranoid, he thinks that there are secret agents following him which as it turns out they are but for a different reason than he thinks. The most effective part in the movie is of course the conversations Darius and Kenneth has, when the purpose she is there for is to get to know him for her work. And as she does that, she discovers a different side to a man everyone else thinks is weird because he thinks he can go back to time. Kenneth is no different than us, Darius for once really finds a connection with him. Everyone has their own way of dealing with different things, whether its something you did or something that happened to you.
I wasn't particularly taken by Jeff and his long lost love Liz (Bergere) part when he meets her and he tries to reconnect with her. That is not to say that Jake Johnson doesn't do a great job with his character, he does. Its just that we see the opposite of what is simultaneously happening on the other hand with Kenneth and Darius, they are discovering something new from the old perceptions they had while here, Jeff is trying to discover something that is already there. The writers does a great job in keeping our interest in something like this when we get a sense of intrigue and anticipation for time travel part. I was really keen to find out that does it really happens or not? When i got halfway through the movie, i didn't cared. When the movie ended on somewhat surprising yet very effective note, all i could think about was the characters. You really don't get too wrapped up about that part of the movie when you have such interesting characters interacting with each other and you get to discover different things about them. All the characters in this movie are either young or either in their 30 or something, one thing that all of them seems to have lost is inspiration, dreams and hope. Kenneth seems to be someone who firmly believes in the idea of going back into the time and doing something purposeful for himself. The fact that a person, no matter how sane or insane is can go through all that trouble just to fulfill his dream or do whatever he decided to, why can't they take a stand and get a hold of their life right now? Safety Not Guaranteed is written in a very superb way, i found the screenplay quite effective and filled with vibrant and joyous moments. When the movie ends, it leaves you with an emotional feeling. Throughout the movie, there are some really funny or either really charming and touching scenes but of course concerning particularly with the characters and depending upon their situations. Mark Duplass gives another really satisfying and pleasing performance, i first saw him in Your Sister's Sister and then in this movie. He just keeps on surprising me with how good he can be on-screen. Jake Johnson who i really like from his show New Girl in a way shares some resemblance with his character in that show thus the reason why i found his character in some of the parts very nice. Aubrey Plaza is fantastic too in the movie, she is very good at playing these types of characters.
Safety Not Guaranteed is a very pleasing and satisfying movie, it doesn't really wants to show off or gimmick something that isn't really there but it uses that to show us how much more do these characters have within them which they don't seems to realize at first. The movie seems very fresh and brilliant with its tone, style and reliance on characters and their emotions. The end does involve a time machine though let me just spoil it for you but if you really watch the movie with utmost interest the way i did, you'll be rooting for the characters and not for the machine to work. One of the best comedies of the year and definitely one of the best indie movies of the year, a gem that needs to be watched and adored.