Indie movies can sometimes slip right under our movie radar. Trying to combat that I search under various independent film festival sites. And I have been known to uncover some indie delights. One such discovery won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award at The Sundance Film Festival in 2012. Classified under sci fi comedy movies and being indie, I figured it could go either way. It wasn’t guaranteed to go the “right” way.
Definitely a comedy and a time travel movie of sorts Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) was directed by Colin Trevorrow. That last name does NOT have a typo. A movie about time travel and directed by a guy who’s a last name looks like and rhymes with “tomorrow” is quite amusing, right? I digress, let’s move on…
Disappointed with her lot in life and always expecting the worse Darius (Aubrey Plaza) is fed up being the intern at Seattle Magazine. Bored and sitting in an office meeting her interest is piqued by Jeff (Jake Johnson) who has found an odd advertisement in the classifieds. A person wants someone to go back in time with them with the condition that they bring their own weapons. Seemingly the person has gone back in time only once before and safety is not guaranteed. A post box number in Ocean View, WA is given.
Wanting to investigate the validity of the ad Jeff asks his boss Bridget (Mary Lynn Rajskub) for two interns to assist him. Getting the green light on the story he says, “Give me the lesbian and the Indian”, referring to Darius and another intern called Arnau (Karan Soni).
Eating dinner together Darius tells her Dad that she’ll be away for a few days working. Telling her she seems to have a dark cloud following and that she’s anti social, he encourages her to go.
Sitting on the side of the road waiting for Jeff, Darius notices that Arnau has two big flame stickers on his laptop. He tells her it is because it is a gaming laptop, it’s very fast.
On the way to Ocean View in Jeff’s Escalade, he tells the interns that they have a budget for two rooms. He proposes getting one room and using the rest for other things. Darius suggests drugs. Seeing Arnau’s horrified face he tells him to chill out and they will buy buffet stuff with the money.
Jeff tells Arnau that they will get him laid on this vacation as Jeff thinks he is shy and uptight. “Vacation?” Darius quips. He shrugs it off, “Work trip, whatever“.
A Sliver Of Time
Staking out the Ocean View post office boxes Darius and Arnau wait to see who placed the ad. Darius spots Kenneth (Mark Duplass) at the post box that was in the ad. In and out of the post office swiftly, Kenneth drives off fast. Darius immediately follows alone as Arnau doesn’t get in the car quick enough.
Kenneth works in the local supermarket. Hiding behind the shopping aisles Darius creeps in spying on Kenneth. He is in full swing telling his co-worker Shannon (William Hall Jr.) about an online chat he had about quantum physics and the possibility of alternative timelines. Disgruntled, he continues and adds that he feels he’s the only one that gets it and that people can see a little sliver of time and that’s it. Interrupting Darius, albeit kindly, he says, “I gotta do a bathroom check brother.”
Pretending to complete a store employee comment card, Darius gets Kenneths’s last name and leaves the store.
Catching-up with Jeff and Arnau in the bar Arnau tells her that the work trip is a ruse for Jeff as he is really there to find his old high school girlfriend.
Jeff decides that he will make contact with Kenneth. A failed mission from the get go, he gains no trust with him. Seeing immediately his insincerity Kenneth asks him why he wants to go back in time. Giving a general airy-fairy reply, confirms that he hasn’t even thought of a reason. “Have you ever faced fear and danger in the eye?” Jeff frowns and says, “Odd question, but sure”. Having had enough of Jeff’s smirking he orders him off his porch.
Back in Jeff’s Escalade the three decide that Darius has a better chance of getting Kenneth’s story.
Those Spiky Thingies
Back at the supermarket Darius quietly sidles up to Kenneth who is stacking soup cans. (Don’t be surprised if you want to crack open a can of Campbell’s soup after watching this movie.)
With a deadly serious face she asks him if they have guns for sale in the store. Also with a deadly serious face he asks her what kind of guns, she whispers, “Something sexy, portable and with killing power.” Kenneth tells her that the state doesn’t allow produce stores to stock such items. Continuing to talk about weapons she asks whether they stock those thingies with spikes on the end of a chain and demonstrates a swinging motion in the air.
Asking what she needs the spiky thingy for she complains that if the ad had been written properly she would have a better idea of what she might need. “My ad?” he says as stops stacking. She replies, “It’s pretty sloppy.”
They continue their supermarket cloak and dagger conversation until finally, Kenneth asks, “Have you faced certain death?” Slowly taking the can from him and placing it on the shelf, cleverly she replies with, “If it was so certain I wouldn’t be here, would I?” Arranging to rendezvous later, in a “safer place” Darius knows she has pulled it off.
Take The Trip
By the way, the spiky thingy is called a Morning Star weapon. I didn’t known either until I looked it up. As the movie progresses it is the layers of the characters that unfold and keep us absorbed. Plus of course we want to see them time travel!
Sci fi comedy movies with a basic plot can go the “wrong way” but this one didn’t. Smart and clever dialogue and convincing characters will make you want to believe and take the trip with Safety Not Guaranteed.
Safety assured if you comment below…..
Did this taster encourage you to watch the movie? If so, why?
Or did you see it already? What’s your favourite bit?
Respect to the Image Makers!