Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
Safety Not Guaranteed: Best Temp Gig Ever
cynicism of journalism is about rub up against the idealism of science. However, the science practiced by Kenneth
Calloway is a decidedly scruffy, DIY affair.
His unusual classified ad attracts the attention of a Seattle magazine
writer, who brings along two lowly interns to help investigate Calloway’s time
travel claims in Colin Trevorrow’s Safety
Not Guaranteed (trailer
opens this Friday in New York and the Pacific Northwest.
on a real classified that became a minor internet sensation, Calloway’s ad
seeks: “Someone to go back in time with . . . You’ll get paid after we get
back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this
once before.” To Jeff Schwensen this
sounds like the perfect set-up for a mock-the-rube piece (and also represents a
good opportunity to hook up with an old summer fling). At first, Darius Britt, an intern who makes
Janeane Garofalo look upbeat, sees it pretty much the same way. However, when Schwensen’s direct approach
spooks the self-styled time traveler, he sends Britt in undercover to win their
to her surprise, she starts to like the guy—kind of a lot. After all, Calloway is a socially stunted
paranoid delusional—what’s not to like?
Of course, Derek Connolly’s consistently clever script leaves the door
open just wide enough for viewers to consider the possibility Calloway is not
so crazy after all. Like they say, just
because you’re paranoid . . .
Duplass’s beefy Calloway (somewhat resembling Lon Chaney, Jr. before his
transformations) and Aubrey Plaza’s much younger and very petite Britt look
like a wildly mismatched couple, but the way they click as kindred outsider
spirits makes perfect sense in the film’s’ dramatic context. Frankly, their romance-in-denial chemistry is
shockingly endearing. Meanwhile, Jake
Johnson delivers generous helpings of outrageous humor, of both the politically
incorrect and ribald varieties. You know
that obnoxious guy you put up with because he is so unfiltered you want to hear
whatever crazy thing he says next?
Johnson nails that vibe as Schwensen (sort of like a Tom Hanks circa Bachelor Party). Poor Karan Soni is also good sport playing
the Arnau, the nebbish straight-man intern, looking appropriately lost amid all
Helmed with sensitivity rarely seen in a genre send-up,
Trevorrow nicely balances the comedic bravado with a humanistic sensibility. Indeed, Safety
never moderates Calloway’s twitchiness, nor does it judge him. Yet, the film offers an unmistakable rebuke
to the urban hipster condescension for small town America. Don’t let the “from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine” copy line set off
your quirky indie alarm bells. It is a
film with a sharp edge and a big heart, but it always stays true to its geek
roots. Thoroughly satisfying, Safety Not Guaranteed is enthusiastically
recommended for general movie-going audiences when it opens this Friday (6/8)
in New York, Los Angeles, Portland, and Seattle.
Labels: Movie Journalists, Time Travel Films