Safety Not Guaranteed is a fun, little movie. It isn’t revolutionary by any means, and it has a painfully obvious ending, but unlike many other independent films I have seen, Safety never loses its heart and remains dedicated to its main characters and their development.
Aubrey Plaza pretty much plays Aubrey Plaza (y’know, the overly attractive sarcastic one who is, of course, somehow a social outcast). She is an intern for a magazine and is assigned to travel with one of their writers (Jake Johnson) and another intern (Karan Soni) to the beachfront town of Ocean View, Washington. Their mission: to track down the writer of a personal ad looking for a partner to go back in time with using his home-made time machine. The trio think this guy is nuts, but they want to see if there is any story potential there.
Plaza then makes contact with Kenneth (Mark Duplass), the writer of the ad. Her role is to win his trust to discover what this whole time travel thing is all about. Kenneth is completely out of his mind pretty much the same way Dwight from TV’s The Office is. Yet, there is a certain charm about him given his passion for his time travel project. Of course, the two of them begin to bond and find comfort in one another.
Yeah, you can kind of see where this movie goes from the beginning. Honestly, though, that isn’t such a bad thing. This is a movie where you can just enjoy the flow. The characters are fun enough and developed enough to where you are invested in them just enough from not being bored with the film’s somewhat predictability. It is a difficult trick to pull off since so many independent films have done this kind of storyline (outcasts come together).
What doesn’t work with this movie is the subplot concerning Johnson’s writer character. He took on the assignment in hopes to reconnect with a long-lost love. While that story isn’t bad, it feels very shoehorned in as if it was used to pad the running time to something resembling feature length (Safety is only about 85 minutes long). I guess it can sort of connect thematically to Plaza’s storyline, but it is a stretch. I guess my point here is that it is thrown in there, but by the end of it, you ask yourself “who cares?”.
Despite that, I would recommend Safety Not Guaranteed. Don’t be fooled by some of the marketing or Plaza’s leading role. It isn’t a hipster movie (although, it is a movie hipsters would rally around). While it may seem somewhat generic, the characters and performances are strong enough to keep you watching. As I mentioned earlier, you see the ending coming a mile away, but, to be fair, the movie couldn’t end any other way. Go check it out. There are worse ways to spend 85 minutes.