Monday, 10 March 2014

Safety Not Guaranteed

In the September issue of Backwoods Home Magazine there was an unusual entry published in the classified ads section. It read:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

It gained massive notoriety online and essentially became an internet meme. The culprit behind the ad was the senior editor of the magazine itself, John Silveira. Silveira merely posted the ad as a joke, but it has since exploded back in his face. Now, comes a film that uses the ad as a basis for its storyline. 

Directed by Colin Tervorrow, Safety Not Guaranteed is an incredibly sweet and charming film. The film stars Aubrey Plaza as Darius Britt, an intern for Seattle Magazine who has little or no direction in her life. After one of the magazines writers proposes that he investigates an unusual classified ad in a newspaper, he takes Darius and another intern with him to Washington. The ad is the “safety not guaranteed” ad, and the writer behind it is Kenneth Calloway, played by Mark Duplass.

With Kenneth sceptical about the media and Darius' role as an intern unknown to him, she tries to figure out the truth behind his claims. The main question hanging over the drama here is if Kenneth is telling the truth. With a turbulent history behind him, pill bottles in his home and the fact that he thinks he's being followed by a government agency, it doesn't look good at all. However, through her interactions with him, Darius slowly begins to make a connection with Kenneth, and with that she starts to believe him.

The two leads here, Plaza and Duplass, are absolutely fantastic and have such a great chemistry on screen. Both of their characters are people who feel like complete outsiders to the rest of society, and together they find a bond that is just lovely to watch unfold. That said, Darius does befriend Kenneth under false pretences, and prospect that Kenneth will eventually find this out is absolutely captivating. It's all played with such honesty that it's impossible to not like these characters. From the scenes of them both “training” in the woods with guns like they're 80's action heroes, to a sweet scene where Kenneth sings Darius a song on guitar, it’s a nice, charming and wholly entertaining film.

There's also a side story that focuses on the writer who came with Darius and the other intern to Washington. It turns out he had another motive for investigating the ad in the paper, and that was tracking down his old high school girlfriend who lives in the area. This story of the writer trying to recapture his youth nicely plays off the various themes of time and a regrettable past in Safety Not Guaranteed, and adds an extra layer of humanity and humour to the film.

Overall Safety Not Guaranteed is a lovely, lovely film. Headlined by a duo that seems like they were made for each other, and an overall mystery that is both compelling and fun, it's one of those films that almost anyone will love. The director Colin Tervorrow is making Jurassic World next, the third sequel to the 1993 film Jurassic Park. After seeing this I'm sure the franchise is in good hands.

Safety Not Guaranteed is a guaranteed hit with a 5/5, []

Denis Murphy

Safety Not Guaranteed at CeX

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