Title: Safety Not Guaranteed

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Mary Lynn Rajskub and Kristen Bell

Feeling like you don’t fit in is a pretty constant theme with a lot of movies at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Overall, audiences gravitate to oddball characters because at least you can say, hey, at least that’s not me. Throw that theme with a sweet romance and time travel and you’ve got, “Safety Not Guaranteed,” a film from first time narrative filmmaker Colin Trevorrow. But as much as I like the sci-fi/time travel genre, I don’t think “Safety Not Guaranteed” works as well narratively as it does thematically.

The story follows Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza), a 24 year-old oddball intern at a city wide, Seattle magazine. She’s trying to find her way through life but volunteers to help out journalist, Jeff Schwensen (Jake M. Johnson) with a feature story on a suspicious ad in a local newspaper looking for an assistant to a time travel experiment. They have to find out if the ad placer, Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass), is legitimate. They travel to the country, where Calloway is from, with another intern, Arnau (Karan Soni), to get to the bottom of this story. During the way, they find out more about Kenneth and his time travel experiment than they expected.

On a thematic level, “Safety Not Guaranteed” works. It examines the relationship of these characters while delivering charming performances from the cast. The theme of regret pops in and out of the narrative and pertains to all of the characters. From Arnau dealing with wanting to be more outgoing to Darius dealing with the loss of her mother, the characters in “Safety Not Guaranteed” projects this sort of longing for the past, while wanting to recapture those few precious moments that slipped away from them. This is used in the best example of Jeff’s true intentions of wanting to investigate this article.

But on a narrative level, “Safety Not Guaranteed” doesn’t work. It’s feel so over-stuffed and long, which is odd because the movie is only 85 minutes long, that the film wears out it’s welcome and doesn’t justify living up to the thematic story arc. At times, “Safety Not Guaranteed” feels dull and tonally confused. It can’t really commit to wanting to be a comedy or a drama and doesn’t balance either element very well. It feels padded to justify the running time.

I’m not sure what the intent was to handle this story this way but “Safety Not Guaranteed” feels like it needed more time on the page before making a festival submission deadline. There is something interesting in the story but it doesn’t shine on the screen as I feel it should. When attending screenings of this movie, just remember, “Enjoyment Not Guaranteed” should be a general warning to the audience.

Technical: C+

Acting: B-

Story: C

Overall: C-

by @Rudie_Obias

Safety Not Guaranteed

By Rudie Obias

Lives in Brooklyn, New York. He's a freelance writer interested in cinema, pop culture, sex lifestyle, science fiction, and web culture. His work can be found at Mental Floss, Movie Pilot, UPROXX, ScreenRant, Battleship Pretension and of course Shockya.com.

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