Director Colin Trevorrow’s first foray into the realm of feature films makes quite a splash with the irrepressibly offbeat “Safety Not Guaranteed.”
Jeff (Jake Johnson), an irritatingly cocky Seattle magazine editor, encounters an unusual anonymous want ad which inspires a story. The advertisement reads: “Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed.” With the help of two less-than-enthusiastic interns, the dour, sarcastic Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and the meekly disinterested Arnau (Karan Soni), Jeff heads off to Ocean View in search of the ad’s author.
After an unpromising start (Jeff, in his smugness, manages to alarm the target of their investigation within seconds), Darius grudgingly takes the investigative lead, winning the very paranoid Kenneth’s trust (Mark Duplass) with a combination of deadpan and black comedy. Once she passes the test personality-wise, extensive training ensues. Kenneth, who believes he is being followed by government agents, also claims to have built a time machine, and plans to return to 2001 to stop his girlfriend from dying. Scenes of target practice and stamina building between the new partners continue, but even as the pair begins to grow closer, Darius strictly maintains her undercover role.
Jeff, meanwhile, has revealed that the real reason he wanted to go to Ocean View after all was to track down an old high school girlfriend. Though initially disappointed that two decades have aged her, their romance actually serves to humanize the otherwise intolerable Jeff character. He is further improved when he helps the painfully shy Arnau finally get some much-needed action.
Audience members connected with the film’s storytelling and overall message.
“‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ proves that good movies don’t need to have big name actors,” moviegoer Steve Kluemper said.
“[It was] an unexpected and quirky film that had the audience rooting for the underdog to do the impossible,” said Emily Conners ’14.
All that remains to be seen is what happens with the supposed time machine. “Safety Not Guaranteed” keeps you guessing until the very end, successfully utilizing a cast of mainly television actors and a script full of comical dialogue to evoke a real-life sort of science fiction which, like its characters, is definitely worth the benefit of the doubt.