Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed ★★★★★

I watch a ton of bad indie comedies so that occasionally I'll stumble upon little gems like Safety Not Guaranteed. I love the philosophy and science behind time travel. I also love what the ability to time travel tends to reveal about characters, as well as how it fundamentally changes their views on life. The human drama in Safety Not Guaranteed is realistic and poignant, with a few flashes of silly humor and tired clichés. However, the negatives are barely noticeable under the shiny outlook on life this film reveals and the almost unbearably likable characters. I had a smile plastered on my face for the entire runtime and found myself wanting to watch it all again right away.

The movie is actually based on a real classified ad submitted as a joke in Backwoods Home Magazine in 1997. It reads:

"Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed."

As one of the first internet memes, it caught the attention of screenwriter Derek Connolly and he turned it into this delightful indie romantic comedy. He centers the narrative around the blossoming relationship between the disillusioned recent college grad Darius and Kenneth, the enigmatic time traveler who wrote the ad. Darius travels to the town of Ocean View from Seattle with her boss Jeff and fellow intern Arnau, both of whom experience growth during their brief work trip. Darius is the only one who is on his side for most of the movie. However, she oscillates between believing in Kenneth's mission and questioning his sanity.

Surprisingly, it's firmly grounded in reality for most of the film. When it takes a leap into fantasy territory, it feels natural and warranted. Throughout the vast majority of the film, it is purposefully unclear whether or not Kenneth is a lunatic or a genius. The suspense is wonderful and the conclusion is satisfying, despite its intentional ambiguity. I love the comedic one-liners and the quirkiness of Aubrey Plaza. I thought this was the best I've ever seen her! Also, I now have an even bigger crush on Jake Johnson. *swoon*

One of my favorite films of the year for sure! It's charming, smart, witty, and uplifting. Highly recommended.

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