Doctor Who? – ★★★
In 1997 John Silveira, while working for Backwoods Home Magazine, wrote the classified advertisement which later became the inspiration for Colin Trevorrow’s film. Silveira was simply trying to fill empty space unaware the effect his little advert would have, but Trevorrow takes the approach of what if somebody genuinely wrote the piece and what was their mental state.
Jake Johnson (New Girl) plays Jeff the magazine worker who spots the advertisement and enlists two interns Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni) to track down the author. This unlikely posse head in search of the story and discover much more than a time traveling weirdo. Safety not Guaranteed isn’t about time travel, like most things – it’s a love story.
Darius’s mother died when she was young and now she makes sure not to get her hopes up as life will just pooh all over them anyway. Jeff is really only interested in the story to hook up with an old high school flame and Arnau is the text book definition of a geeky virgin. Mark Duplass, who people should remember from last years’ Your Sister’s Sister, plays potential time traveller Kenneth and would appear to be stuck in the 80’s with a denim jacket and mullet hair style. So each character is in search of someone, and only time will tell if they succeed.
Safety is a very safe film if you’ll pardon the lazy writing, there are no major upsets or dramatically tense plot twists. It’s a sweet film about a bunch of misfits and societal outcasts trying to unravel a mystery and in the process discover more about themselves than Kenneth. The performances are all measured and each allows the other breathing room, meaning no one person stands out from the pack. Trevorrow’s direction is also pretty uneventful not needing any gimmicks or clever shots he allows the character interactions and relationships to be the focal point of the piece.
The best word that describes Safety Not Guaranteed is that horrible adjective; nice. It will give you some laughs, won’t offend anyone, but ultimately will disappear into the ether of your mind not to be seen again until one night on the telly.