SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED


A sweet bit of quirkiness about a writing intern helping a reporter do a story on a man who has placed an add in a paper looking for someone to go back in time with him (but must bring their own weapons because safety is not guaranteed—hence the title).   But in general terms, it’s really about people who want to return to the past, both literally and figuratively, in order to change their lives.  The irony of the story, though, is that the ones who succeed are the ones who decide to embrace the present and realize they don’t need to change their past in order to find happiness.  Can’t get much sweeter than that and the movie does have wonderful moments.  Derek Connolly, who wrote the script, has his characters down pat, getting them to reveal their various inner truths with a lot of warmth and witty humor and almost none of the cringing painfulness an audience often experiences when sweet and quirky characters reveal truths about themselves.   And it’s all done to a rousing and impressive, often crescendo building, score by Ryan Miller.  It’s not a particularly ambitious film.  It never really rises above what it is and has none of the daring or risk of such recent sci-fi movies like Timecrimes, Another Earth, Monsters or Melancholia.   Ambitious is also not a word to describe the direction by Colin Trevorrow who doesn’t really bring anything that special to the proceedings, though he certainly gets the job done.   The acting also does little more than get the job done as well; no one’s bad, but no one soars either.   Aubrey Plaza plays the intern and Mark Duplass, hero of many a mumblecore film, plays the time traveler wannabe.  They have a wonderful rapport together and Plaza has a smile that lights up the sky (so necessary since her basic arc is to go from Debbie Downer to someone who finds new meaning and excitement in life).   The ending is probably the best choice considering everything that came before.  It could have taken many a wrong turn at the climax, but to its credit decided on the option to really go there.  I won’t tell you what happens, but suffice it to say, I did leave the movie in much better spirits.

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