I had not heard of "Safety Not Guaranteed" until my dad mentioned it at dinner tonight; it sounded pretty good, so we set out to see the film that was described to me as the scifi-romantic-comedy of the summer. With such a lead in I was pretty sure I would like it, and I was happy to find that I did. "Safety Not Guaranteed" was written by Derek Connolly and directed by Colin Tevorrow. The film takes place in Washington (state) where a magazine writer (Jake Johnson) and two interns (Aubrey Plaza and Karan Soni) attempt to track down a man who posted a classified ad looking for a time travel companion. The journalists find the eccentric and misunderstood Kenneth (played by filmmaker Mark Duplass) who is trying to right a wrong from 2001 and is nearing completion of his time machine. Plaza's character, Darius, poses as the time travelling companion in order to get information for the story, while learning more about Kenneth. As their friendship develops, the writer, Jeff tries to relive his high school years while trying to forcibly bring the other intern, Arnau, out of his nerdy shell with some debauchery.
While it is a stretch to call this film scifi, the dynamics of people, love, and lost time make this film enjoyable and touching. Acting props go out all around as the film, while having a very independent feel, had some great humor and chemistry between the characters. Plaza is up to her normal mono-toned ct to mask her characters true feelings, but instead of being overly cynical, like her Parks and Rec character, she shows some real development along with her great one liners directed mostly at her journalist boss. Duplass' character, Kenneth, reminds me of a likable Dwight Schrute type who doesn't live in the normal reality, because the one he is making is better, and his insufferable antics are justified by his sincerity and kindness as a person. Along with these two, Johnson plays the 30 something journalist wishing he was still in high school and Soni is the over eager intern who will do anything to get a good recommendation for grad school.
Despite my minimal efforts (I'm lazy) I cannot find much I would have changed about the film, so I am not going to say anything on that subject.
The story is sweet, well paced and reminds me suspiciously of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind". As relationships develop, we go deeper into the science fiction is a reality theme that spins the plot into something almost magical. I was not surprised to find out tonight that "Safety Not Guaranteed" placed well at the Sundance Film Festival as it is one of the more original films I have seen lately witha great cast to back it up. "Safety Not Guaranteed" has been out in different areas for a while, but seems to be going for a gradual limited release, if it is in a theater near you, I would certainly suggest checking it out over some of the bigger films currently out.