Safety not Guaranteed (film): Innovative and delightful
These days I am finding it difficult to even get to the end of most of the films I watch. The reason why most of the movies I feature on these posts end up with a "recommended" badge is merely because of the fact that most the films that I watch that I believe are bad, I never make it to the end of them. I don't think it is fair to give a review to a film that you haven't finished and many films that I previously berated as being boring were actually quite good once you get to the finale.
These days though, with all the endless options that we have at our fingertips, I tend to give up really quickly on movies that I would have suffered through back in the days when we had to drive to Blockbuster in order to rent them. That's right! I'm old enough to have been to Blockbuster and back in those days if you rented a film you watched all of it, even if it absolutely sucked.
Safety not Guaranteed is a science-fiction melded with comedy sort of film that has some action elements to it. It is difficult to classify this film because it is kind of its own thing. This is probably why the 2012 film won awards yet didn't manage to pull in a large audience at the box office. The shoestring budget of $750,000 was used wisely and almost all of the actors in it are pretty solid which is surprising considering the low pay that they all received.
My first reaction to seeing the cast was "who?" and I nearly passed it by as one of those movies that would have gone straight to video back in the day. A friend of mine insisted that I watch it because he knows what kind of films I enjoy and I am glad he talked me into it because other than a couple of really terrible actors that probably worked for free, this was a really delightful ride that ends in a way that leaves you with more questions that answers.
I'll not spoil anything so if it seems like what I am saying is vague, just know that it is done on purpose.
The main character is aspiring journalist "Darius" who works for Seattle Magazine under a hilarious but lazy boss who pushes all of his work off on his interns, of which Darius is one. Darius has zeal for the profession but tends to get frustrated since her boss does none of the work but takes all of the credit. One day when brainstorming ideas for the magazine, Darius brings up an add in the classifieds where someone is looking for someone to travel back in time with them and they want to investigate the guy presuming that he is just some nutjob.
When Darius meets up with Kenneth, the man who wrote the classified ad, she does so not as a reporter, but just as pretending to be someone who believes in him and genuinely wants to go with him back in time. Kenneth comes across initially as someone who is in fact nuts and he displays all the attributes that you would expect from someone that is seriously into conspiracy theorists but is actually quite brilliant and misunderstood by all those around him.
It's tough to tell what happens next without spoiling the story but basically Darius goes through the motions with Kenneth including what he refers to as required defense training before they go on their mission back in time. Kenneth has his own reason for wanting to go back in time but is also interested in why Darius wants to take the trip as well.
Darius learns over time that Kenneth is not just some whack job and that he actually has some impressive technology as well as very thorough research and diagrams that indicate that he is a genius and that his time machine may actually be real.
She blows off his paranoia about being followed by government agents but after spending a bunch of time with him she starts to feel as though he is being followed as well.
Her objective when starting this venture was to make a story for a magazine, but as things progress her objectives become very different including that she develops an attraction towards Kenneth, who is genuinely an intelligent and nice person who just doesn't fit in in the world.
I'll leave it at that so that I don't ruin anything for potential viewers.
Should I watch it?
In this day and age it seems that especially when American studios get involved, we end up with a $300 million shitshow that is just a display of who can spend the most on CGI rather than who can have a story that is actually compelling with good dialogue. I think it is MUCH more difficult to make a story with good dialogue and interesting characters when you have a smaller budget than what Disney spends on their opening credit sequence.
This film only made $4.4 million at the box office but has become a bit of a hit after the fact for good reasons. I found the story both touching and hilarious, mostly because of the character Jeff that is played by Jake Johnson. Kristin Bell is actually in the movie briefly but she must have done this as a favor and did her part in one day no doubt. There are not big names, no big special effects but instead of all that nonsense we have a well thought-out story with compelling characters that are relatable. I loved this movie and I think you will as well. Give it a shot!
this film is not on Netflix that I am aware of. I don't know how you can stream it as part of a subscription. Many places will rent it to you for $4 but if you are willing to go sailing I am sure you will find it easily enough