The 2012 crop of films was epic and unlike any year before. From the historical pictures like Lincoln and Argo, to the beautiful literature adaptations like Life of Pi and The Hunger Games, the industry made its great deal of profits. However, one film stayed below the commercialized radar. For my Netflix Pick, I have decided to deviate from television for a moment to spread the word of the most amazing film of 2012: Safety Not Guaranteed. However, the majority of the actors from this film come from a strong television background, so I’m kind of staying with my theme.
The film stars Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza as the highly intelligent but highly unmotivated Darius, who works as an intern at an alternative-style Seattle magazine.
The demanding magazine editor Bridget, played by 24’s Mary Lynn Rajskub, leads an ordinary pitch meeting where staff writer Jeff, played by New Girl’s Jack Johnson, suggests investigating a classified ad, in which the author is looking for a partner to travel back in time with, noting, “Safety Not Guaranteed.” Bridget agrees to the story and Jeff picks two interns to travel with him to Ocean View, WA. Darius and Arnau, the nerdy Indian medical student, accompany Jeff and strategize a plan to find the ad’s author.
After Jeff reveals to his interns that he intends to rekindle a romance with his high school girlfriend, Darius takes it upon herself to get the story. However, when she finally meets the ad’s author, a seemingly deranged grocery store employee, Kenneth, played by The League’s Mark Duplass, she becomes close to him.
Through his quirky training sessions with her, Darius tells Kenneth that she wants to go back in time to stop herself from asking her mom to stop at a gas station for chocolate milk, because this led to an incident where she was robbed and killed at the gas station’s mini-mart. Over the next few days, Kenneth eventually becomes comfortable enough to reveal to Darius that he intends to go back in time to stop a drunk driver from crashing into his girlfriend’s living room and killing her.
This movie is really about time. Jeff wishes to go back to his high school girlfriend and badgers the sexually inert Arnau to live a little while he’s young.
Darius’s mission takes an unexpected turn when she discovers that Kenneth’s old girlfriend, Belinda, is still alive. She goes to interview her and the charming housewife, played by Veronica Mars and Heroes star Kristen Bell, tells Darius that Kenneth had never been the same after he drunkenly drove his car into a house. In a twist right out of the pages of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, the truth we thought was about an unnamed driver was really about Kenneth.
And to complicate matters more, Kenneth discovers that Darius’ original intentions for seeking him out were to write a story on him for her magazine and that she was not genuinely responding to his ad.
I will not spoil the movie’s ending, but I promise that it will leave you speechless.
Apart from the witty humor and terrific acting, the beautiful cinematography of Ocean View’s coast truly captures a place where time is virtually non-existent. This aids in giving the characters the necessary time to develop together and create a genuine, lasting bond.
I recommend this film to those who enjoyed such comedies as Dan in Real Life, Lars and the Real Girl, and Silver Linings Playbook.