D: Colin Trevorrow. DP: Benjamin Kasulke. W: Derek Connolly. Starring: Aubrey Plaza/Jake Johnson/Mark Duplass/Karan Soni/Kristen Bell/Mary Lynn Rajscub/Jenica Bergere.
Every so often it is important for main stream movie goers to expose themselves to something other than a big budget studio movie. And not because it can be assumed that the story will be better or more original. But rather, to be reminded of the origin of cinematic story telling. Story telling that comes in all shapes, sizes, and costs.
Safety Not Guaranteed comes to its party with a bag full of charm and a cooler full of freshness. Bored intern Darius (Aubrey Plaza) embarks on a work trip/vacation with her internship boss, Jess (Jake Johnson) and fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni). The misfit trio head down from the offices of Seattle Magazine to track down a beach town crazy who has posted a classified ad for a fellow time traveler. So what begins as journalistic curiosity ends up being Plaza’s own journey into trust, life, and that line we all draw between sanity land and crazy town.
Plaza is immediately likable in that indie real girl sort of way. She’s present and subtle, allowing the story to slow gear up. Her partner in crime for most of the film is Kenneth (Mark Duplass), the classified ad poster who ends up approving her participation in his time traveler venture. Mark and his brother, Jay, both executive produced the movie and are responsible for 2010’s Cyrus. Mark is playful and lovable here as cooky and endearing Kenneth. A standout at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, it’s easy to see how alive a story can feel if acted with the same tone.
Joining Plaza on her adventure is Jake Johnson. Now recognizable as one of the three male roommates on Fox’s new hit show, New Girl, Johnson grounds the story in some realm of reality and older guy wisdom. His character’s own grappling with his age and misguided life help to balance the quirky bizarreness of Duplass’ search to go back in time. Johnson also manages to steal some scenes with Soni’s Arnau, who must learn to embrace is youth and opportunities.
Ultimately, the film is uplifting, tender and fun. Although it could have not revealed so much in its conclusion, Safety Not Guaranteed embraces its anthem and gives an over-saturated movie market, something fresh to fawn over. Let’s just hope enough people go to see it and break their own cycles of monotony.