I have to admit, I went into Safety Not Guaranteed with some pretty high expectations (even though, as my co-contributor Erin taught us all in her Gatsby post, high expectations can be dangerous). Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, I just maybe didn’t love it.
Let’s start with the cast, which was the reason for my high expectations. Now, I know way around a good TV comedy, so you can bet I was pretty excited to find a movie that featured not only Aubrey Plaza of Parks and Rec, but also Mark Duplass of The Mindy Project and (there’s more?!) Jake Johnson, star of my current obsession (but we’ll talk about that later), New Girl. Needless to say, I have nothing but good things to say about the acting in this movie, featuring some of my absolute favorite not-so-famous actors.
The plot is intriguing, especially at the beginning, with Aubrey as the intern teaming up with a reporter (Jake Johnson) to track down and write an article about a guy who put out a classified ad claiming he can time travel. Johnson’s character Jeff is funny in a well-meaning, occasionally-a-bit-of-a-jerk kind of way that he does really well; Darius (Plaza) is inquisitive and interesting. (We’ll let slide the somewhat pointless, extremely stereotyped Indian sidekick.) I have to admit I was kind of rooting for them to get together, but alas- enter Duplass’ enigmatic Kenneth. Madman, or smartest person the world has ever known? Darius spends the movie trying to puzzle it out for herself, occasionally reporting back to Jeff and the sidekick, Arnau. It seems like there’s a bit of a division, so that there are two parts to the plot- the main plot, which is Darius getting to know Kenneth and what he’s up to, while Jeff is busy rekindling his relationship with his old girlfriend. This lesser part of the plot seemed like kind of a distraction and didn’t really go anywhere, so this portion of the plot felt a bit pointless. But the ending was the only part of the plot I disliked; Darius finds out Kenneth has been lying to her about why he wants to travel back in time, and the girl whose life he wants to go back and “save” is alive and well, but instead of sorting it out, she agrees to hope in his homemade time machine with him- and it works. But this is where the movie ends. It was extremely unexpected for the time machine to actually work, especially given that we don’t even see what they actually do when they go back and the other half of the plot is left unresolved after Jeff has a fight with his girlfriend, and it simply struck me as a bit of a bizarre, unsatisfying way for the movie to end.
Event though the ending was not the best, the movie was good overall, full of likable characters played by great actors, and I would recommend it. But for future reference: when going into something with high expectations, satisfaction is not guaranteed.