Friday, December 28, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed

Have you ever sat around with a group of friends and laughed at the classified ads that are in the local paper?  If you lived in the Seattle area in 1997 you might have seen the following ad:

"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."

So if you could go back in time, where would you go, who would you see and why?  For Darius (Aubrey Plaza), a disillusioned college graduate who lives at home with her widower father (Jeff Garlin) and interns at a Seattle magazine, she would like to go back to see her mom. Darius seeks out the source of the classified ad in Ocean View, Washington along with magazine writers, Jeff (Jake Johnson), and Arnau (Karan Soni).  While Jeff just wants to chase after his high school crush and Arnau wants some kind of life experience, Darius spends her time with Kenneth (Mark Duplass), a man who believes that he has built a time machine. The closer they become and the more they understand about each other, the less clear it becomes if Kenneth is just crazy or if he actually is going to successfully travel back in time.

This is a quirky film with actors that excel with being on the fringe.  Aubrey Plaza is one of the best actresses on "Parks and Rec", who with just her eyes is able to deliver so much more.  It one moment you can see her sadness and in another her face brightens with a smile.  Mark Duplass is quickly becoming a favorite of mine, whether it be the slacker in "The League" and "Your Sister's Sister" or as a writer for independent films like "Cyrus" or "Jeff, Who Lives at Home" he is an amazing talent.  Together with Aubrey Plaza they actually make a believable couple that by the end of the film you want to see them succeed. 

A surprise for me was Kristen Bell who plays the mysterious ex-girlfriend of Kenneth and helps to feed the suspicions of Kenneth and challenges the faith of Darius.  A disappointment for me was Jake Johnson, who I haven't quite been able to figure out.  He is funny as the down on his luck roommate in "New Girl", but in this film he is despicable in how he seeks out his high school crush and thinks that because he believes he is successful that he can "save" her and bring her to the city. 

While the film won't be for everyone, it is still enjoyable and if one can look past the slow pace of the film the ending will deliver in a way that you won't entirely expect.  The quirky nature of the film can be funny for some, but the jokes will certainly be missed by others.  Overall, I am glad that I waited to see this on DVD and comfortably recommend it to others as a 3 Quack film

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