“How far back do you want me to go?” asked Darius.
Right from the beginning, Safety Not Guaranteed beckons to the audiences that it’s an evidently laden time-travel story. Whether it’s in the poster, fashioned with a rip of newspaper classified ad about someone’s wanting to find partner to go back in time, or it’s in the first dialogue, about someone’s asking how far back to go, details of the time-travel is made crystal clear. Fortunately, this indie debut from director, Colin Trevorrow and writer, Derek Conolly (partnering up again in Jurrasic World) is able to afford the time-travel matter here, not as merely a gimmick, but as a prominent subject.
What we don’t know is: what the objective of this travel-back-to-time mission is. The classified ad only tells us about things, as follows:
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.
The information is quite convincing but calling into doubt at once; it’s so elusive that it lures a life-style Seattle magazine reporter, Jeff (Jake Johnson) to voluntarily track down whoever writes the ad down in Ocean Views, Washington. He brings along two interns, Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni). In no time, the team manages to find out the time-travel guy, a quirky middle-class clerk, Kenneth (Mark Duplass), who looks more of a sheer humbug than a savant.
Knowing who ‘the guy’ is, Jeff quickly loses interest in investigating about him as he is more interested in reconnecting with his former lover; meanwhile, Darius still gets her flame in such matter. She poses as someone who responds to the ad and soon, upon Kenneth’s acceptance, she begins to get connected with his outré behavior. The chemistry builds, the goal sets, as the time approaches.
Safety Not Guaranteed interestingly blends the joy of rom-com with the wit of sci-fi, as it reveals how the time travel really “works”. Both Darius and Kenneth have respective goals to go back in time, which juxtaposed with Jeff’s desire to reconnect with his past lover. Yet, the relationship between Darius and Kenneth in preparing their time-travel voyage, also the struggle done by most characters, profoundly pursed into a contemplation about making the present perfectly counts, instead of modifying what’s been and done in the past. Therefore, the time travel might be unnecessary or it might not happen (or it might?).
This movie, in a funny way (and not a complicated way), revolves around the idea of time travel without trying to be too scientific; nor it tries to be too romantic in presenting the sweet moments. It’s a character-driven story builds in multilayered grounds that tells about hope and fear and how to cope up with both. Safety Not Guaranteed keeps me pinned on its work space to prove that the time travel actually happens or it’s just a metaphor; yet, as soon as I get into the story, I found out that there are more to trace down within the depth of the character than the time travel. Thanks to the solid performances and brilliant writing.
Without big budget nor big casts, Safety Not Guaranteed is a master in its class. It’s a fabulously not-so-time-travelling sudden romance that embraces witty comedy and comical imagination and ends up being a contemplative vault to hope and present.
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Drama, Comedy, Romance, Sci-Fi Directed by: Colin Trevorrow Written by: Derek Conolly Starred by: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson Running Time: 86 mins Rated R for language including some sexual references