There are rare gems out there for movie lovers, and this is one of them. I missed this when it was out in theaters earlier this year, but now that it’s available for rent I sat down to watch it last night, and now put it in the small category of films I not only need to own, but I feel I need to buy extra copies of to hand out to friends.
Safety Not Guaranteed was inspired by an Internet meme from a couple of years ago, where a man placed an ad similar to the one on the poster above. From this little oddity the film makers have constructed a story about regret, the desire to change the past, and the simple joy of letting go of that past and embracing life.
They tell this story through wonderful performances, particularly Aubrey Plaza as Darius, the young intern given the job of approaching the man who placed the ad, and Jake Johnson as Jeff, the reporter who takes the assignment, more as excuse to look up an old girlfriend than actually write the story. Both actors could have been insufferable, given the prickly bits built into their characters, but both radiate a kind of charm that makes you want to see what happens when they drop their cynicism. And when they do, it’s completely worth it. Mark Duplass, who plays Kenneth, the earnest wannabe time traveler, is so sincere you can see why Darius begins to believe in him. Even with the story so firmly grounded in present day reality, you want to believe him, too.
A common complaint among movie buffs is a perceived lack of originality in today’s movies, which is a complaint I think is largely unfounded. There are plenty of original, interesting films out there, provided you widen your scope. This is just one example, but it’s a strong one, and one I’ll certainly be watching again.