“Safety Not Guaranteed” is a 2012 indie starring Aubrey Plaza as Darius Britt, a low-key young woman who “expects the worst and tries not to get her hopes up”.
Darius is working as an intern for a local magazine when she gets sent to assist on a humorous piece about a classified ad.
“Wanted: Somebody 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.”
Of course, what they find is not what they expect, and everyone involved winds up questioning the way they saw things at the start.
Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza) is a dour young woman. She has a thankless, low paying job as an intern, and still lives at home with her father. When a writer for the magazine (Jake M. Johnson) stumbles upon a classified looking for a companion for time travel, he suggests doing an investigative, humorous piece on it. His editor approves, and he takes Darius and another intern on the road to track down the man who placed the ad.
The ad’s author, Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass), turns out to be paranoid, slightly off-balance grocery store employee. Darius poses as a respondent in order to learn his motivation and the details behind the ad. He keeps his plans close to the vest, however, in order to ensure she’ll pass “training” and prove worthy to accompany him back in time. He teaches her to shoot, and even has her accompany him on a robbery in order to obtain parts for his time machine. But most of all, he gets to know her, sharing his own story and regrets that cause him to want to go back in time, and getting her to share hers.
What she doesn’t expect, however, is that she’ll star falling for him, in spite of the fact that his sanity is obviously suspect.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” has a really quirky humor to it. Plaza’s character is sarcastic and sardonic, but once she starts posing “undercover” in order to gain Calloway’s trust, she gets more upbeat and positive, and that hopefulness is funny because she’s so tentative about it. Duplass’ Calloway meanwhile, is a first class nutjob, training with weapons and doing shoulder rolls in his backyard, that kind of thing. Jake Johnson’s magazine writer character drinks, tries to get to the male intern laid for the first time, and generally blows off the assignment in order to try to reconnect with his high school sweetheart. The three of them provide a nice comedic mix that’ll keep you smiling throughout the movie’s quick runtime (86 minutes).
The film also has an underlying touch of melancholy, too, though. Calloway’s desire to travel back in time is motivated by regret, and several of the players try to connect with each other because they’re lonely. So while there’s certainly a bit of exploration about “would you go back if you could?”, the movie mainly about finding someone to connect with.
With a nice mix of humor, things to ruminate on and the requisite “is he crazy or his he not” element that you’d expect, “Safety Not Guaranteed” is a nice, low-key, feel good indie.