Movie Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

Tom Lokhorst is a veritable cornucopia of useless trivia information, a pop culture junkie, a time-traveler, and self-proclaimed movie nerd. When he’s not watching “Dr. Who”, he also writes movie reviews for T-Shirts.com.

"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."

This is the newspaper classified ad that sparks off the movie that gives it its title.  If I read that ad I would be all about going back in time. For years, I have been obsessed with movies about time-travel—from “The Time Machine” to “Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure”. This movie takes an interesting approach to your typical time-travel story by looking at reasons why someone would go back in time and why someone wouldn't want to do it alone.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” stars Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”), Mark Duplass (“The League”), Jake Johnson (“The New Girl”) and newcomer Karan Soni, which all inhabit their characters perfectly. Plaza plays Darius, a young intern, along with Soni's character Arnau at a magazine in Seattle where Johnson's character Jeff is a writer. When editor of the magazine asks the staff about upcoming news stories, Jeff brings up an ad he had found in a paper about someone looking for a time-traveling companion. Jeff enlists Darius and Arnau to travel to a beachside small town to track down whoever wrote the ad, but also using the article as an opportunity to meet up with an old hook-up from high school. When the three writers finally meet the time traveler Kenneth (Duplass), it is up to Darius to find out if his story checks out and if he really can travel through time.

What makes this movie watchable, is that this movie was extremely well cast. Aubrey Plaza was charming, hilarious and also interesting to watch when she was forced to deal with serious issues that happen in the movie. Plaza took a character we have seen time and time again in various romantic comedies, the slightly lost girl who becomes interested in a slightly offbeat guy, but gives her realism and bite that makes you root for her as she finds out more about the time-traveler in question. As for the time-traveler, Mark Duplass brings some of that nonchalant charm he has on cable TV to his character. We are not sure that Kenneth has the knowledge to travel through time, but we do know that he is strange enough to pull something off. The rest of the writing team from the Seattle magazine have their humorous moments in the secondary storyline. Jake Johnson does a great balancing act with the perfect amounts of rude crudeness and actually caring about people. Finally, the scene-stealer Karan Soni's Arnau. His character gets some of the best lines of the movie, which I attribute to fantastic awkward delivery.

As a huge fan of time-travel stories, I really liked that this movie took a different approach. This film wasn’t so much about the actual trip through time, but rather about the people who are going to go into the machine.

Bottom Line:

See this movie if you're looking for something cute, funny, and charming.

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