Knowing only the most minimal amount of information about this film before going in was a blessing. I had no expectations at all. I actually didn’t even know what genre this was going to be falling into. I certainly wasn’t expecting the rom-com that eventually showed through.
While most romantic comedies are full of unobtainable guys and girls getting together, making the audience get all dreamy over the latest heartthrobs, Safety Not Guaranteed would probably be the rom-com for all of us that people think are a bit weird. It’s also nice that stars Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza are that kind of approachable attractive that an audience can relate to better. I’ve instantly added this film to my list of feel good go to movies including Lost In Translation and Eat, Pray, Love.
The story starts with an introduction to Darius (Aubrey Plaza). After her mother died when she was younger, her outlook on life became rather bleak. Expect the worst and you’ll never be disappointed. Her job as an intern at a magazine isn’t exactly fulfilling, but she gets a chance to change things during a morning meeting. Looking for new stories, reporter Jeff (Jake M. Johnson) suggests one about a classified ad looking for someone to go back in time. Darius and fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni) are tasked with helping Jeff as they begin to investigate the man behind the ad, Kenneth (Mark Duplass). It really didn’t feel like a romantic comedy at first, but as the three reporters reach their destination, we learn that Jeff is only there to catch up with a lost love. Throw in the fact that Darius and Kenneth start to become very close and you quickly realize that you’re in rom-com territory.
When done just right, I can accept the rom-com, but it’s got to be done very well. The chemistry between Darius and Kenneth feels very natural. They’re both very quirky and have a lot in common, especially when we find out their personal reasons for wanting to go back in time. The comedy is also very well done. Kenneth is odd, but not enough to freak anyone out, and he’s just so damn lovable that you can’t help but root for him. That oddness that he has also makes him extremely funny. Darius is a bit of an apathetic slacker, Arnau is a hard working student, which has eliminated his social life, and Jeff is the older stud who imagines himself to be very cool. The three of them together is frequently hilarious. They even manage to throw in quite a few geeky references, the standout being a quick conversation involving stormtroopers, which had my inner geek laughing out loud.
The aspect of time travel mixed with some pretty straight up romantic comedy situations is a weird combination. People looking for some sci-fi are going to be disappointed. While many of the events in the film revolve around Darius and Kenneth preparing for their journey through time, very little of the film involves the science behind it. The focus lies more in the reasons the two of them want to go back in time, and how these events have shaped their attitude and brought them together. Has Kenneth really figured out how to time travel? In the end, that’s not important. What’s important is learning to live in the present and giving up regrets. There seemed to be a split on opinion for the ending, but this moment is irrelevant when you look at the film as a whole. It’s a fun journey, and a film that leaves viewers with a smile on their face. I can’t wait to watch it again.
Under the marquee – Will