Safety Not Guaranteed (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
October 11, 2012 by Dennis Amith
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is definitely a rare treat! It may not be a perfect film but it’s a comedy that will surely entertain you thanks to the performances by Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass and its far-out, time travel storyline.
TITLE: Safety Not Guranteed
FILM RELEASE: 2012
DURATION: 86 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Subtitles: English, English SDH
COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Language and Some Sexual References)
Release Date: October 30, 2012
Directed by Colin Trevorrow
Written by Derek Connolly
Produced by Derek Connolly, Stephanie Langhoff, Peter Saraf, Colin Trevorrow, Marc Turtletaub
Executive Producer: Michael B. Clark, Jay Duplass, Mark Duplass, John Hodges
Co-Producer: Lacey Leavitt
Music by Ryan Miller
Cinematography by Benjamin Kasulke
Edited by Joe Landauer, Franklin Peterson
Casting by J.C. Cantu
Production Design by Ben Blankenship
Art Direction by Lisa B. Hammond
Costume Design by Rebecca Luke
Mark Duplass as Kenneth
Aubrey Plaza as Darius
Jake Johnson as Jeff
Karan Soni as Arnau
Mary Lynn Rajskub as Bridget
William Hall Jr. as Shannon
When an unusual classified ad inspires three cynical Seattle magazine employees to look for the story behind it, they discover a mysterious eccentric named Kenneth, a likable but paranoid supermarket clerk, who believes he’s solved the riddle of time travel and intends to depart again soon. Together they embark on a hilarious, smart, and unexpectedly heartfelt journey that reveals how far believing can take you.
Back in 1997, John Silveira would write a joke classified ad for Backwoods Home Magazine asking for people to accompany him to time travel. Who knew that over a decade later, that joke would inspire a film titled “Safety Not Guaranteed”, directed by Colin Trevorrow (“Reality Show”, “Home Base”) and written by Derek Connolly.
Executive produced by the Duplass brothers, actor Mark (“The Puffy Chair”, “Humpday”, “Cyrus”) and writer Jay (“Baghead”, “Cyrus”, “They Puffy Chair”), the film was created with a budget of $750,000 dollars and the independent film would earn over $3 million in the box office.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” would star Aubrey Plaza (“Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”, “Parks and Recreation” “Funny People”), Jake Johnson (“21 Jump Street”, “New Girl”, “No Strings Attached”), Karan Soni (“Worst.Prom.Ever”, “1600 Penn”), Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24”, “Julie and Julia”, “Little Miss Sunshine”) and Kristen Bell (“Veronica Mars”, “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”, “When in Rome”).
And now the film will be released on Blu-ray and DVD on October 30, 2012.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” revolves around a young woman named Darius Britt (portrayed by Aubrey Plaza). A disillusioned college graduate, her demeanor seems quite introverted that no employer wants to hire her. And her last memory of being happy was back when her mother was alive.
She now lives with her father (portrayed by Jeff Garlin) and works as an intern at Seattle Magazine.
As the editor Bridget (portrayed by Mary Lynn Rajskub) of Seattle Magazine is looking for story leads, journalist Jeff (portrayed by Jake Johnson) brings up a classified ad about a man in Oceanside,Washington looking for people to accompany him and travel through time.
In the classified ad, the man writes, “WANTED: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARATEED”.
Because the article can be fun story for the magazine, Bridget gives Jeff the go-ahead to travel to Oceanside and to bring two interns along with him. He chooses Darius (who he thinks is a lesbian) and the computer nerd Arnau (portrayed by Karan Soni).
But part of the reason why Jeff wants to go to Oceanside is to visit his high school girlfriend Liz (portrayed by Jenica Bergere) and to see how things have changed with her since high school. So, as Jeff focuses on Liz, he leaves Darius and Arnau to pursue the story.
And this begins Darius’ pursuit of the man in the classified ad, a guy named Kenneth (portrayed by Mark Duplass), a cautious guy who works at Grocery Outlet but is often seen spying on a building where laser hardware is kept.
As Jeff makes the first contact with Kenneth and that he wants to accompany him and travel in time, when Kenneth asks him for his reason of wanting to go back in time, the answer is not good enough and Jeff fails.
So, Jeff gives Darius the job of trying to get close to Kenneth and sure enough, Darius is able to gain Kenneth’s trust. But first, she must go through training sessions which include firing guns, martial arts, running exercises but also telling him why she wants to go back in time.
And this is where Darius reveals that she wants to go back in time to stop her mother from being killed. Darius reveals that her mother died because she asked her to stop over to a store and buy her chocolate milk. And her last conversation with her wasn’t gracious or nice. And she regrets that day.
Seeing that her reason for going back in time, Kenneth decides that she is the person he wants to accompany him as he travels back in time. And while Jeff and Arnau wonder if Kenneth is just a crazy person, during their time together, Darius starts to appreciate Kenneth and even begins to fall for him.
But the deeper she gets herself into her research for the article and spending quality time with Kenneth, will she believe his theory that he can time travel or does she think that he is absolutely insane?
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1). While the majority of the outdoor scenes are outdoors, colors are well-saturated for those scenes, showcasing good detail. But there are some scenes that were shot in low-light in which we see a lot of noise start to creep up. But for the most part, picture quality for “Safety Not Guaranteed” looks good on Blu-ray!
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio. The film is primarily a dialogued-driven track, so much of the HD audio is front and center-channel driven. There are not many scenes with crowds either, so the lossless soundtrack is appropriate for the film. There is probably one scene in the film that involves Kenneth’s creation that utilizes the surround channels but for the most part, it’s a film that is primarily dialogue-driven with some scenes with music which are crystal clear!
Subtitles are in English and English SDH.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” comes with the following special features:
- A Movie Making Mission – (15:16) Interviews with the cast and crew about the film and how the film became a reality.
- The Real Ad Behind the Movie – (2:19) A short featurette of how the joke classified ad would inspire an actual film being created.
“Safety Not Guaranteed” comes with a UltraViolet code that allows you to stream or download the film for your iOS or Android smart phone or tablet.
I have learned from watching low-budget films that have some connection to the Duplass brothers, that sometimes they are able to create entertaining films with a low budget. And with “Safety Not Guaranteed”, working with director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly, they were able to craft a time travel film, but not so much about the time travel but focused on character relationships.
And for a film to be based on relationships, it all comes down to the audience believing the characters. And for “Safety Not Guaranteed”, this is where casting really makes a big difference in the film.
Aubrey Plaza is the right person to play the disillusioned character, Darius. And in some way, she kind of reminds me of the popular animated character “DARIA” (a popular animated cartoon from the ’90s that was shown on MTV) in behavior and mentality, and made me wonder if Darius was inspired by the character.
But the film required for Darius to be this person that is silent and you really can’t figure out because she seems like the quiet type. So, whenever she does speak, sometimes the words that come out of her mouth is just fun and so sarcastic. I really enjoyed watching her character.
And Mark Duplass as Kenneth. Another character just as unpredictable as Darius. Part of you feels that this guy is totally delusional and possibly crazy. But there is that little part of you that hopes that maybe he has created an actual time machine.
And while the film does focus primarily on Darius and Kenneth, the writers give the audience some breathing room and introduce other relationships. For the character of Jeff, he’s a man who wants to hook up with his high school girlfriend and then you have computer nerd Arnau. Arnau is a very nice guy, but there is no way he is ever going to get close to Darius and because of his meek character, Jeff feels so bad that he wants to get Arnau to loosen up and maybe hook him up with a woman.
So, these four characters are pretty fun to watch throughout the film. You also get a few scenes with Mary Lynn Rajskub (from “24”) as Jeff’s editor and also a brief scene with actress Kristen Bell.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality for this low-budget film is good, as with the lossless audio. And there are two special features included.
Overall, “Safety Not Guaranteed” is an entertaining film because the unpredictable nature of its storyline and characters. As the film revolves around one man wanting people to travel in time with him, the concept is so ridiculous that you feel that maybe that Kenneth is crazy. Or is he?
“Safety Not Guaranteed” is definitely a rare treat! It may not be a perfect film but it’s a comedy that will surely entertain you thanks to the performances by Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass and its far-out storyline.
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