Safety Not Guaranteed
5/5 MUST must see SEE
dir Colin Trevorrow
scr Derek Connolly
prd Derek Connolly, Stephanie Langhoff, Peter Saraf, Colin Trevorrow, Marc Turtletaub
with Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin, William Hall Jr, Tony Doupe, Xola Malik, Lauren Carlos
release US 8.Jun.12, UK 26.Dec.12
12/US 1h25
Safety Not Guaranteed
Time travellers: Plaza, Soni and Johnson

duplass rajskub bell

32nd Shadows Awards

sundance london film fest

Safety Not Guaranteed

R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
Safety Not Guaranteed The script for this inventive and deceptively simple comedy is so beautifully balanced that it's difficult not to fall in love with the characters. It also helps that the cast members deliver note-perfect performances.

Darius (Plaza) is a young woman whose life derailed at age 14, when her mother died. Working as a Seattle magazine intern, she's sent to a seaside town with reporter Jeff (Johnson) and fellow intern Arnau (Soni) to investigate a classified ad that's seeking an assistant in a time-travel mission. When they track down the ad's author, Kenneth (Duplass), he refuses to talk to the over-confident Jeff, which is probably just as well since Jeff's really only interested in reconnecting with his high school crush (Bergere). So Darius volunteers.

Each character in this film is caught between their past and future. Kenneth wants to travel back to 2001 to make up for a relationship gone wrong, while Darius is hoping to save her mother's life. Meanwhile, Jeff is forced to examine who he really is in light of who he once was, even as he encourages Arnau to break past patterns and start now to become the person he will be. And all of this is done with such a light touch that we barely notice it.

The actors, who improvise many of the film's most hilarious moments, create complex, honest characters who are hugely endearing. Johnson even manages to give Jeff, with his swaggering thoughtlessness, a surprisingly sensitive heart. Plaza plays on her typecast disaffected-youth persona to explore something much more interesting along Darius' sometimes absurd journey. And her chemistry with Duplass is remarkable: sweet but also intriguingly edgy.

Director Trevorrow keeps things moving briskly while maintaining a tight focus on the characters rather than the increasingly nutty plot. And he uses camerawork and editing to cleverly draw us into each situation, which allows the script to bring out some startlingly resonant themes as the dry humour keeps us laughing and the gentle romance touches us emotionally. Most remarkable is the way the entire film seems so effortless, carrying us off on an adventure we never want to end.

cert 15 themes, language 28.Apr.12 slf

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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall