Safety Not Guaranteed Review – Wait, What?

Spoilers… sort of… but it really doesn’t matter.

I recently watched an indy movie called Safety Not Guaranteed. This looked from the trailer to be an interesting drama. I’ve heard a few sites mention it, so I gave it a view. It was perplexing to say the list. The initial setup is easy enough to follow. Aubrey Plaza stars as an intern (Darius… Seriously?) for a Seattle based magazine. While workshopping future articles, they came across a help wanted ad posted that read:

“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.”

A writer takes two interns (Aubrey included) to the small town to investigate. The premise seemed interesting enough. As the story unfolds, we learn more about Kenneth (Mark Duplas of The League fame), the man who posted the ad. Darius starts to gain Kenneth’s trust as she investigates him, learning more about his mission. Despite her better judgement, she starts to development feelings for him.

The story was interesting and had my attention, until the finale. We essentially followed 4 characters, the 3 reporters and Kenneth. The draw of the movie is Darius and Kenneth with the other two’s endeavors relegated to b-plots, with none of them really panning out. The reporter (Jeff), takes this trip back to his home town to hook up with an old flame. She’s amazing, he wants her to move back with he, she rejects him. That’s it? From there he goes on a bender and gets the other intern laid. Alright.

As the main plot progresses, we learn Kenneth wants to go back in time because his high school girlfriend was killed by a drunk driver. It comes to light that she was alive, and married. When Darius interviewed her, she admits they never really dated. Feeling betrayed, Darius confronts Kenneth where he runs to his boat/time machine (we haven’t seen it until this point). Then she decides to join him where they go back in time. What?

I was engaged until this point, wanting to see how this would resolve. Instead I was given a deus ex machina ending that didn’t really fit in the grounded reality the movie was set in. I am not against time travel in stories (Chrono Trigger and Back to the Future are some of my favorites), this just wasn’t earned. The problem for me was the movie did nothing before this to explain or develop the ending. Him traveling in time was set up as something that wasn’t plausible, without any sort of doubt to juxtapose it to create an air of believability other than his charm and determination. Act 1 is used for setup, introducing concepts or major characters after that is incredibly jarring as seen here.

I’m not throwing the movie out completely, I just don’t think I’d watch it again.

Disagree? Rather I talk about something else? Comment or tweet!

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