Film: Safety Not Guaranteed

If you’re in the mood for a subdued, quirky indie comedy with some genre twists, definitely check out Safety Not Guaranteed (2012), a fun and surprisingly moving little film. Aubrey Plaza stars, running a slightly less misanthropic variation on her Parks & Recreation persona as Darius, an aimless intern for a Seattle magazine. A little spark goes into her bleak existence when writer Jeff (Jake Johnson) suggests a feature piece about a man who’s placed a classified ad for a time traveling companion — an idea that appeals to Darius for personal reasons. She joins Jeff and a fellow intern, the meek Arnau (Karan Soni), on a road trip to identify the man who placed the ad: Kenneth (Mark Duplass), who may or may not be nuts, but either way ends up having a profound effect on Darius.

Safety Not Guaranteed has a relaxed pace and a low budget, but it’s a winning movie mixing low-key humor, unusual romance, and elements of science fiction into a unique and enjoyable mélange. Plaza is perfectly cast and shares an agreeable oddball chemistry with Duplass. Johnson delivers a great sleazeball catalyst, while Soni is scene-stealingly funny as the hopelessly withdrawn Arnau. It’s not a big, flashy film by any means, but it’s clever and amusing, and it has more heart than three or four Hollywood blockbusters combined. Recommended.

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