Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

Question: If you could go back in time, what time would you return to and why? Normally I answer, or vaguely answer, my own questions in these reviews but I’m not going to on this one. I am not an overly nostalgic person unless it has to do with a film or a band. Plus, after seeing Safety Not Guaranteed this past weekend, I learned a valuable lesson.

Sorry if this confuses anyone but you will just have to see Safety Not Guaranteed to understand what I am referring to….or trying to, at least.

 I have wanted to see this film for a long time. There was just something about the story that drew me to it – not too long ago I even posted the preview on here; and I save those posts usually for films that I think will be interesting, unique or that tell a story that will move me. This one did, not drastically, but enough to get me out of my writer’s block (fingers crossed) and make me contemplate parts of my life.

That’s what I want from most films, art, books, etc…an opportunity to think; notice something you hadn’t before; and look upon an idea with a fresh perspective, etc… Safety Not Guaranteed took on an age-old idea: looking back on your past with regret and hoping you can change things so you wouldn’t be unhappy now. And the filmmakers made a charming, perfectly decent film that will just make you smile. Plus, they added the idea of time travel. Who wouldn’t like that, right?

So, I ask again, would you want to go back in time and why? For most, I believe, the reasoning will involve another person: a partner, girlfriend, boyfriend, parent or someone with whom you hurt or they did something that haunts you, still. We all make mistakes. Mistakes are thrust upon us. We fall in love with the wrong person, or the right person, and hearts get broken no matter what. Also, we can be cruel to another. Admit it – we have ALL been there. We are human. Safety Not Guaranteed represented several aspects of people’s regret and/or searching for the cure to change their current situation. And I think most will be able to relate.

Now the next question(s): Could we fix it? Should we fix it? Would we be better off if we changed these brief, few moments of the past? Or are we where we are supposed to be? Thinking about regrets is enough to drive you a little mad.  And that’s how the actor in this film, Mark Duplass’ character, is portrayed. Someone who must be insane because he puts a classified ad in the paper requesting  a partner go back in time with him. He declares it will be dangerous and your safety will not be guaranteed. His ad intrigues a magazine editor – enough to send a writer and two interns to check the story out.

There are a couple other character in this film that display the same sort of desire to change their present by reaching towards the past:  The young intern, Darius, played by Aubrey Plaza and her boss, Jeff, played by Jake. M. Johnson. Both these characters represented the vast differences on why someone would want to go back in time. I liked both characters, a lot. In fact, Jeff was one that kept the comedy going in this film. He’s the type of guy you don’t want to like but he evokes sympathy when you aren’t expecting. Darius is a sarcastic girl that has a deep, hidden secret on why she is unhappy now.

As for the rest of the story, no more details. Just go see this film. It is slated as a comedy, and it was absolutely funny at parts but it is not slap stick or a joke every few minutes type of film. The humor is subtle and well placed. Safety Not Guaranteed showed real humor, the humor we all have in our lives. The absurdity that is ever present – that’s what makes it a comedy. However, I would categorize this as a drama as well. And that’s a compliment.

Bottom line: Just give me a good story, tell it well and with respect (especially for the audience), and you’ve got a fan in me. Safety Not Guaranteed did all three. Well done!

My favorite thing: There might too many things to list here. I just really, really liked this film. Okay, I laughed OUT LOUD when Jeff raises his fists in the air. His reaction to what was happening just kept me smiling and smiling.

My least favorite thing: I got nothing this time.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Big Beach Films, 2012 

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson, Mark Duplass, Karan Soni, Jeff Garlin and Kristen Bell.

Rating: R
Length: 86 minutes

Review: 9 out of 10

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