Title: Safety Not Guaranteed
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin, William Hall, Jr.
Plot: Sent out by “Seattle Magazine” Jeff (Johnson) along with interns Darius (Plaza) and Arnau (Soni) to try and discover more about a curious newspaper classified ad, looking for someone to travel back in time.
Review: Has Aubrey Plaza got a clause in her contract which only allows her characters to be involved with only the creepiest or most irritating characters in he films she appears in. Certainly it would appear to be the case as I was forced to watch her not only dry hump Christopher Mintz-Plasse but also shack up with the terminally vapid Scott Porter in “The To Do List” and now here we get possibly the most unbelievable romance between her character and the oddball behind the ad in question Kenneth (Duplass). Again the reasons behind this bizarre plot direction is almost as confusing as the exceptionally high rating that this film currently holds on Rotten Tomatoes.
Starting off as a mystery piece as the trio try to discover the truth behind the bizarre classified add, which soon leads to Darius becoming the inside girl as she meets up with Kenneth and begins his unorthodox training regime which consists largely of firearm training and running around in the woods, which seemingly is the sort of training that potential time travels needs. As his trust in her grows Kenneth also involves Darius in his raids of the local research facility to steal more equipment for his time machine, as seen in possibly one of the most questionable heists ever, especially when Kenneth seems to be carrying it out based on things he’s seen in the movies, while only made the more surreal when he is caught wheeling out equipment by a stunned group of employees attending a birthday party down the hall from the storage room he has just broken into.
While this is happening we also get the second plotline of Jeff trying to connect with his old girlfriend who lives in the same town as Kenneth, which it ultimately turns out is his sole reason for taking on the assignment originally, which ironically turns out to be a lot more interesting than the main plot line anyway. Needless to say Johnson’s bumbling and frequently crude approach to this personal project really provide most of the films highpoints even more so when it all inevitably blows up in his face and inturn turning his focus to trying to get the terminally shy Arnau laid.
It is certainly something to question when the subplot of the film is more interesting than the main plot of the story, which is it has to be said largely down to how generally creepy the character of Kenneth is. This isn’t the sort of creepy until you warm up to him, but instead just plain creepy. It’s hard to say if this is down to Duplass’s performance which largely feels devoid of any kind of emotion making the sudden romance between him and Darius only all the more forced, while I can only challenge you not to roll your eyes at the clumsy seduction scene.
It’s kind of shame that this film fails to be more enjoyable, especially when the cast seem to really care about the film they are making with Johnson being the real standout here as he brings to the film the same energy he brings to his more recognisable role as Nick on “New Girl” and while here it essentially is him giving us more of the same, it is still an enjoyable performance and one which distracts from some of the more negative aspects of the film. Elsewhere Plaza comes off more hit and miss as we wheels out her trademark permanently moody style which as with “The To Do List” doesn’t exactly work when you’re trying to build a romantic connection between characters while at the same time making me wonder if despite her talent that she wouldn’t be better kept to playing supporting characters rather than taking on these leading roles?
The ending of the film while some might appreciate the fantastical direction it takes the film, for me ultimately felt kind of flat and almost as if director Trevorrow was challenging the audience for ever doubting Kenneth in the first place. However for this to have work we should have atleast been given some indication that he could actually pull off his time travel claims, rather than being lead unquestionably down the path of believing that he is just a delusional crazy loon.
Despite this being a heavily flawed film it would certainly seem that someone high up liked it seeing how Trevorrow is currently directing the forth “Jurassic Park” movie “Jurassic World” after attempts to remake another time travel classic “Flight of the Navigator” fell through though as of the time of writing it remains to be seen if he works better under the restraints of the mainstream system than he does when given the freedom that the indie scene provides.