20 November 2012

Movies: Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1862079/

Idie drama/comedy/romance/sci-fi

Jeff. a writer from a Seattle-based magazine, pitches doing a story about whoever wrote the following advertisement:
"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. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED"

He brings along two interns, Darius and Arnau,  to help with research. Jeff knows that the contact information is his old hometown, so in reality he just wants to meet and possibly hook up with his old high-school girlfriend, the story is an excuse to get a paid vacation back home. The interns stake out the post office and figure out who authored the advertisement, a guy named Kenneth. Jeff tries to approach the guy but Kenneth doesn't trust him and tells him he won't do. So Jeff sends intern Darius, because she's a girl and maybe Kenneth would be more receptive.

It's a quirky comedy with decent dialog and acting. It is based on an actual want ad. Really. The author had inserted it as a last minute space filler while laying out the want ads page for the magazine he worked for. It caught some folks' attention and was even featured on Leno's Tonight Show. Thus this film's inspiration.
But pay attention. Questions will be raised by conversational details seeming to change over time. Was Kenneth deluded? Was Darius telling a situational lie? But after you see the ending of the film, think about how those conversational details changed. Could it be...?

I recognize some of the folks in the film. Darius is played by Aubrey Plaza, whom I recognize from "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" and especially "Mystery Team".  Mary Lynn Rajskub (Chloe in "24") makes an appearance as the magazine editor. Even Kristen Bell has a little cameo. The guy that wrote the original ad even makes a quick cameo.

I liked it. It has the look and feel of a low budget indie film. Competent camera work, good sound, coherent editing including the stereotypical indie-sounding music soundtrack. The major characters get developed about as much as needed to deliver the story, the supporting folks get just enough depth to keep them from being cliche cardboard props. Reminded me of other indie films like early Wes Anderson flicks or "Little Miss Sunshine". Just enough budget to put a solid film together but lacking that big-budget Hollywood spit and polish and overproduction. Which is good. It's an intimate film and the indie style keeps it intimate without production intrusion.

So, IMO, a decent flick for that lazy saturday afternoon when you'd like a little light comedy that's entertaining and put together well.

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