Offbeat Northwest comedy 'Safety Not Guaranteed' a pleasure
"Safety Not Guaranteed," an offbeat made-in-the-Northwest comedy about time travel written by Derek Connolly, is an unexpected pleasure, writes Seattle movie critic Moira Macdonald, an adventure in which you never quite know where the characters are going, but you want to go along. The movie is playing at several Seattle theaters.
Seattle Times movie critic
'Safety Not Guaranteed,' with Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, from a screenplay by Derek Connolly. 85 minutes. Rated R for language including some sexual references. Several theaters.
Part road movie, part romance, part coming-of-age comedy and part something entirely its own, "Safety Not Guaranteed" is an unexpected pleasure. Colin Trevorrow's offbeat made-in-the-Northwest comedy, scripted by Derek Connolly, springs from a classified ad (a real one, from the 1990s) that reads in part: "WANTED. Someone to travel back in time with me. This is not a joke." Three Seattle Magazine employees, led by a grumpy intern named Darius (the wryly funny Aubrey Plaza), head out of town in search of the ad's author, and the adventure begins — you never know quite where these characters are going, but you know that you want to go along.
Darius is a young woman with an attitude: When a prospective employer asks, "Can you give me an example of going beyond the call of duty for a customer?," her answer is a deadpan "No." But part of the pleasure of "Safety Not Guaranteed" is watching her emerge as something more than a by-the-numbers slacker; by the end, we've learned that her favorite song is "Over the Rainbow," and her reason for wanting to time-travel is heartbreakingly sad. Plaza's flanked by three funny men — Mark Duplass as the ad's author, Kenneth; Jake Johnson as Darius' smoothly full-of-himself boss, Jeff; and Karan Soni as Arnau, a gawky fellow intern — and the four actors create a snappy ensemble.
Filmed in various Pacific Northwest locations (Ocean Shores stands in for the seaside town of Ocean View, and the Seattle Magazine offices play themselves), "Safety" is a low-budget, low-key charmer. "You're not going to be your age forever," a surprisingly kind Jeff reminds the awkward Arnau, late in the movie; it's a reminder that we all time-travel eventually into adulthood, sometimes on a winding path.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org