Thursday 22 February 2018

Laughter and interest are guaranteed

Film Review: Safety not guaranteed. Director: Colin Trevorrow Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Karan Soni, Jake Johnson. (Club, IFI, 86 minutes)

Paul Whitington

The fact that Jay and Mark Duplass appear among the small army of Safety Not Guaranteed's producers should give you some idea of what to expect.

A whimsical but nicely judged comedy directed by first-timer Colin Trevorrow, it stars Parks and Recreation regular Aubrey Plaza as Darius Britt, a disillusioned college graduate who is not enjoying her internship at a Seattle magazine.

When her boss, ace reporter Jeff Schwensen (Jake Johnson) comes across a classified newspaper ad that reads 'Wanted – somebody to go back in time with me. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not Guaranteed', he decides it might make a good story, and brings Darius and intern Amau (Karan Soni) to the town of Ocean View to investigate.

Jeff has ulterior motives: he grew up here, and wants to reconnect with his childhood sweetheart. That leaves Darius and the nerdy Amau to see who the mysterious time traveller is.

When it turns out to be local oddball Kenneth Calloway (Mark Duplass), Darius is initially dubious. But when she gets closer to him, she starts to wonder if Kenneth is as crazy as he seems.

Neither, for that matter, is Safety Not Guaranteed quite as silly as it seems, because behind the time-travelling trope, the film has quite a lot to say about coping with failed expectations and getting priorities right. And while it doesn't really manage to tie up all its loose ends, Safety Not Guaranteed sparkles with deadpan wit and Plaza and Duplass are most appealing.

Released on December 28.

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