Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

“While I would like to maneuver through this world with an open heart and mind, sometimes it doesn’t gain you favor. So I just need to be equipped with the necessary skill sets, guns, training, weapons, fighting – in case I encounter any obstacles that need to be defeated.”

★★★★
Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Derek Connolly
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED

Loners, social outcasts, and closet softies often find escapism in fantasy. Whether these fantasies are related to romance, adventure, or simply, magic, it’s rare to indulge in such escapism and find some self-discovery along the way. The indie-friendly romantic comedy Safety Not Guaranteed, however, manages to do just that.

Darius (Plaza) is an outsider. She has felt emptiness and apathy for social situations that most find exhilarating, and her current position as an intern at Seattle Magazine has her changing empty toilet rolls in the public bathrooms. When she is picked to join journalist Jeff (Johnson) and a quiet, nerdy Indian intern to chase up a story, she escapes into a fantasy that ends up revealing her true colors, skills, and lovable qualities. The story in question is prompted by (and inspired by a true newspaper ad) something found in the  classifieds of the Washington Paper:

In Safety Not Guaranteed, Aubrey Plaza is in her element. She takes the deadpan cynicism and wit from the typecast characters she’s played in Scott PilgrimDamsels in Distress, and Parks and Recreation, and levels it with a warmer and more open characterization of Darius, who finds a connection with the writer of the seemingly crazy ad.

In a similar way, the film itself strikes a perfect balance between tragedy, comedy, romance, and quirkiness, giving each of the characters their own journey towards self-discovery that are set against the backdrop of a paranoid loner who is convinced he can time travel. As Darius gets sucked into the time travel fantasy, and the world of another outsider like herself, we too become engrossed by the different strands of stories that reveal vulnerabilities and strengths within each character.

 

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