WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED.
Coming close on the heels of that other romantic-comedy-with-a-sci-fi-twist-in-which-the-title-comes-from-a-classified-ad, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, we get the generally lighter and more indie-flavored Safety Not Guaranteed. This one follows a trio of Seattle fluff journalists who track down a guy who placed the above ad in a small town paper. Of the three, the story focuses most on Darius (Aubrey Plaza), a young, bitterly sarcastic intern whose parents cruelly thought it fitting to name their daughter after a noted despotic ruler of ancient Achaemenid Persia. (The movie makes no mention of her boy’s name or its derivation–I just thought it was a curious detail.)
After some resolute stalking in the greatest journalistic tradition, they locate the object of their search, Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass), a mildly-unhinged and paranoid grocery stocker. Hoping to gain his trust, they send Darius, in the theory that her own surly neurosis and good looks will ease his suspicions. The two hit it off almost immediately, allowing the movie to shift gears into a sweetly romantic story of regret. This is echoed in a nice subplot about the shallow, self-obsessed veteran reporter (Jake Johnson) who only chose to pursue the ad story so he could try to re-connect with an old fling.
The predominant question is whether Kenneth is indeed an eccentric inventor who truly found the secret to cracking the fourth dimension, or just a nut. Right up until the end, the movie keeps teasing us with little hints that can go both ways. Plaza, in her career to date, has essentially been a one-note performer, but that note is explored a little more fully here, and she makes for a sympathetic, if initially abrasive, protagonist. Duplass, along with his brother (they were executive producers here as well) is best known as a director of lower-budget, pseudo-mumblecore fare, like the recent Do-Deca-Pentathlon. But I was fairly impressed with his performance here, embellished with some nicely subtle tics. He helps to keep this little celebration of the poisonously neurotic dreamers among us light and entertaining. – [DVD] [Blu-Ray]
DVD Release Date: 10/30/12