Joseph Belanger’s review:
Whether you’re spending your time running away from it or whether you’re constantly obsessing over every tiny detail from it, the past inevitably leaves its mark on everyone. Of course, there are also those who take it all one step further and build elaborate and unstable time machines from whatever parts they can piece together at their disposal. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is about that guy. Well, it’s about more than that but more importantly, it is also one of the simplest and most sincere indie comedies I’ve seen in some time.
In the mid 90’s, a classified ad was placed in an issue of Backwoods Home magazine, enlisting assistance for a time travel experiment. The ad asserts that the man placing it has successfully traveled back in time already but that subsequent trips cannot include a safety guarantee. It is clear that whoever placed it had to be a colorful character but so would the person who would answer an ad like that have to be. This is what inspired novice screenwriter, Derek Connolly, to write his first screenplay. By having three journalists - well, one lazy as all hell journalist (The New Girl’s Jake M. Johnson) and two overworked interns (Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza and relative newcomer, Karan Soni) - investigate the ad and subsequently the man behind it (Mark Duplass, half of the directing team behind CYRUS and JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME), all the characters have to come to terms with where they are in their lives by acknowledging their pasts and how they’ve written them in their minds.
Of course the implication of the title is that going back in time, or facing the past if you will, is potentially hazardous to your health. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED may be slight in its scope but under the direction of first time feature filmmaker, Colin Trevorrow, the entire cast brings their own depth to their characters, making for a pretty warm and endearing movie. You never know where its going to go next but wherever it brings you, you can rest assure it will be a surprisingly funny and realistically touching place. If only the future could provide that same guarantee, right?