Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin and Mary Lynn Rajskub.
Rated: R for language including some sexual references.
Release date: June 8, 2012
Released by: Film District
This film fest favorite from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine is quite spry and dextrous from the direction with rather nimble editing and lensing and storytelling right through the performances.
An unusual sci-fi comedy adventure with a premise drawn from a 'Headlines' segment on The Tonight Show; Safety Not Guaranteed, stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, and Karan Soni.
Helmer Colin Trevorrow brings nuance and complexity to the proceedings making every frame count, especially through Plaza's Darius who has been interminably irritable for some time since her mother died when she was a teen.
Now, as an intern for a Seattle magazine, she's off to Ocean View, Washington with a cocky reporter Jeff (Johnson) and fellow, nerdy intern Arnau (Soni) to check out a classified ad looking for an assistant in a time-travel venture. They find the scruffy Kenneth (Duplass of Jeff, Who Lives At Home) behind it and takes an eager Darius under his wing. The supermarket employee isn't keen on Jeff's smug demeanor, so it gives the latter a chance to revisit a high-school love interest (Jenica Bergere).
An ad-lib style with breezy pacing doesn't allow the off-center plotting to hinder the intriguing character desires; something thoughtful and endearing is delivered with a soft assurance that allows for perspective on the past and future. Darius has plans about her mother, Kenneth wants to change things that happened a decade ago; Arnau is prodded to go past the man in the mirror to make that change and lift himself while Jeff confronts his own reality from his own unthinking ways.
The latitude that an avuncular Trevorrow provides for his cast with additional support by the likes of Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin and Mary Lynn Rajskub brings rather dry, if uproarious wit into the preposterous with emotionally gratifying returns. The situational angst and tension are attention-getting in an adventure that some may wish could last longer than it does. In particular, Plaza (known for her small-screen work but has begun to build her movie resume with Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and the recent Damsels in Distress) draws nicely off her familiar prototypical disquietude to render an affecting portrait, with discomfitting sweetness opposite Duplass. Duplass, to his credit, exacts a heartwarming vulnerability to what is a character in heavy braggadocio.
Safety Not Guaranteed may be a little more derailed based on its elemental creativity from scribe Derek Connolly with some snappy line readings that will keep it from achieving the more lofty word-of-mouth status that the aforementioned Little Miss Sunshine did awhile back later in the summer. But, in some sort of outre, deceptive time-warped way with romance there is something remarkable and surprisingly harmonious guaranteed.