Editor’s Note: This was originally published surrounding its screening at SXSW. It’s now in limited release.
Safety Not Guaranteed takes us into the world of an internet meme from an ad placed in a 1997 magazine that appeared as shown below. I was crazy for the idea as soon as I heard about the concept and couldn’t wait to see this film. I wasn’t disappointed as, of all the films I saw at SXSW this year, Safety Not Guaranteed was hands down my favorite. Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson and Karan Soni are an amazing cast and have fantastic chemistry. This film takes us on a philosophical journey with each character and it is so enjoyable going along for the ride. Aubrey Plaza plays the guarded Darius Britt, a magazine intern who wants some spark to end the monotony of her current situation and finds it when she infiltrates Kenneth’s (played by Mark Duplass) world. Jake Johnson plays Jeff Schwensen, a self centered writer who finds more than he bargains for on a trip to his family summer vacation spot. Karan Soni is a student intern at the magazine who has never taken a risk or kissed a girl and gets a real world education while on the road with Jeff and Darius. Mark Duplass is Kenneth Calloway, the man who placed the ad for a time travel partner, a suspicious loner who is trying to make up for past mistakes. The three magazine employees go on a search for this man and if I may be so cliched…find much more than they bargained for.
As much as I was looking forward to seeing Safety Not Guaranteed at SXSW, it could very easily have let me down, but I came out of the theater with the opposite experience, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It is such a heartwarming story with a strong human element that few could resist. I knew Jake was my favorite on New Girl for a reason and he proved why in this film with his portrayal of the cocky Jeff who lacks meaning in his life. Karan Soni was hilarious as Arnau, the intern who seems to be terrified of everything. Aubrey Plaza’s Darius was a perfect match to Mark Duplass’ Kenneth and she really steals the show with this performance. Mark Duplass takes on the role of Kenneth as if it is someone he knows personally and wants to portray as honestly and humanly as possible, his was a moving performance that I was not expecting.
Everyone in this film is searching for something, as we all seem to be. Their search leads them to unexpected places, physically and emotionally and in watching this film we get to enjoy all the twists and turns, ups and downs right along with them. From Jeff’s lost love to Kenneth’s reason for going back in time, I was sucked into every single story line and never lost interest. I have never enjoyed watching a film from start to finish as much as I enjoyed this experience. Every moment of this film has substance. Every…single…moment. It never loses momentum, but still takes the time to really develop the story and characters and lets you feel all of it. This is storytelling at it’s best.
I have to agree with the Sundance Film Festival acclaim and the honor they bestowed on writer Derek Connolly with the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. He wrote this screenplay and these characters with such life and feeling that I’m sure they jumped right off the page, just as they did off the screen. For that, credit also goes to director Colin Trevorrow for allowing his cast to work in an environment where they felt free enough to put themselves out there and really make these characters their own.
I love movies and I really don’t know that I have ever enjoyed a film this much or been so giddy even after walking out of the theater. I think I have a crush on this movie, which I didn’t even know was possible until now. I even got all goofy over the trailer when it popped up in my inbox a few hours ago. I cannot wait until it is released and I can see it again and again. This is the best unexpected love story I have ever seen, to call it a romantic comedy or dramedy just doesn’t do it justice, it is a human story; so very, very human.
To see my red carpet experience and interviews with the cast, director and writer for this film, click here.
Safety Not Guaranteed will be released in theaters June 8, 2012. Check out the trailer here!
What was your first Movie Crush? Share in the comments below!