Monday, July 2, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

I'm not sure if everybody has seen the popular internet meme that Safety Not Guaranteed is based on, but I'm guessing there's a pretty good chance. It began as a joke want ad in a small magazine in 1997, that read:

Over the years, the ad has spread over the internet, appeared on television and attained a sort of notoriety. The choice of words were brilliantly deadpan. It was hard to tell if whoever placed the ad was serious or not. The premise of Colin Trevorrow's film is, "what if the ad was written by a man who was dead serious?"

Aubrey Plaza stars as Darius, an intern at a Seattle based magazine, chosen to accompany a reporter, Jeff (Jake Johnson), on a trip to find and interview the man who placed the ad, and see what his deal is. The man in question is Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a clerk at a small town grocery store with a mullet and ever-present jean jacket, paranoid and mistrustful of strangers, and seen by locals to be a little off. Darius is recruited to talk to him and try to win him over and get him to open up.

Problems, of course, arise when Darius begins to like Kenneth. They're both unhappy and damaged by events of their past, and she finds a kindred spirit in him. He seems to genuinely believe in his time travel theories, and at times, seems to seriously know what he's talking about. Darius is skeptical but sympathetic and must decide whether or not to take a leap of faith in the guy. That's the whole theme of the movie, having the guts to take that leap, and believe in somebody.

I really enjoyed Safety Not Guaranteed. It was simple, quirky, upbeat, and heartfelt. The performances were great, especially Plaza and Duplass. Plaza will probably be a star someday, and Duplass, also a producer on the film, has been turning up all over the place lately. Jake Johnson was funny, as was Karan Soni as the soft-spoken, nerdy second intern on the trip.

The ending is particularly satisfying. The movie skirts the line on whether or not we're watching a science fiction film or not. Are Kenneth's theories legit, or is he nuts? I won't tell. It's up to you to take the leap and see the movie.


  1. Enjoyed both your review and the film.

    Didn't know it was based off a real ad.

  2. Hey, thanks.

    Yeah, the guy who wrote it sometimes put in little jokes when the magazine had extra ad space. He still gets responses for it in the P.O. Box he listed.