Safety Not Guaranteed tells the story of three employees of a magazine who go on a journey to write an extraordinary story. The story is about a man by the name of Kenneth Calloway(Mark Duplass), who claims he needs a partner for time travel in a classified ad. The story starts off in the offices of a Seattle magazine company. The magazine is running out of interesting ideas for pieces to write for their publication . Darius Britt(Audrey Plaza), an intern for the magazine, finds herself tagging along on this trip . Her boss, Jeff Schwensen(Jake Johnson), pitches his idea to write the story when he comes across a classified ad. The classified ad reads:
WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.
Jeff Schwensen volunteers the help of his two interns, Darius Britt and Arnou(Karan Soni). What initially starts off as a work trip turns into a trip of self-discovery.
Coming from her comedic role as a jaded public official in CBS’s Parks and Recreation, Audrey Plaza fits the role well as a cynical intern . This movie doesn’t really have much comedic relief but the few funny parts involving her were fun to watch. It was intriguing to see her character’s cynical side made into a believer. She has a quirky personality type that works well with Mark Dupluss’s. Mark Duplass’s portrayal of a man who thinks he can travel in time is interesting. His paranoid antics are hilarious on screen. He plays a really likable character. Even if he’s possibly crazy, it’s hard not to want to root for him.
A character that I didn’t like that much in this movie was Arnou. His character follows a formula that’s pretty cliche in Hollywood. We see this theme occuring repeatedly in comedies. They add in a story about an socially inept person who somehow manages to get the girl . His role in the movie would have been a little more passable if there was more character development for him. To top it off, the viewers aren’t told much about his past at all. He did help in character development in some regards. The purpose he did serve was as a good insight into Jeff Schwensen’s character. Jeff’s feelings of nostalgia made him want to help Arnou embrace his youth. Though, I don’t think he does it for Arnou but rather for himself.
Jake Johnson is currently starring in Fox’s comedy,The New Girl. He plays a more serious role in this film as Jeff than he’s best known for. On this road trip, Jeff battles with the harsh realities of his mortality. He realizes he’s not getting any younger and his past perceptions of love perhaps need to be reevaluated. His portrayal of a man living in the past was heartening and relatable; especially towards the end of the film as he started to come to terms with himself.
Coming from the people that made Little Miss Sunshine, Safety Not Guaranteed manages to takes some notes but doesn’t quite live up to expectations. Where Little Miss Sunshine succeeded was obvious ‘in your face’ humor whereas Safety Not Guaranteed dabbled in a more dry subtle humor. Because of this, It struggles to be a good blend of comedy and drama. Regardless of it’s faults, Safety Not Guaranteed turns out be an unexpectedly decent movie.