The indie-movie formula has gained a lot of steam since the mid 2000s. While this has brought a lot of great movies, the fairly repetitive nature of the genre has produced quite a few stinkers of them. I enjoy films where famous actors take low salaries to prove that they’re capable of character acting and not just superficial roles that involve vampires, wizards, or dragons as much as the next person. But it can get a little old.
Safety Not Guaranteed deviates from the typical indie format. It’s quirky, offbeat, romantic, and it even stars a few people famous from television including Parks and Recreation’s Aubrey Plaza, New Girl’s Jake Johnson, and The League’s Mark Duplass. The film is about a newspaper writer (Johnson) who sets out with two interns (Plaza and relative newcomer Karan Soni) to investigate a man who posted an ad in the job listings of the paper, which asked for a person to go back in time with him.
The film is powered by the quirky relationship between Duplass and Plaza, who is tasked to serve as the decoy volunteer to go back in time. Fans of The League and Parks and Rec will be pleased to see that the charm that makes their characters so likable on TV has carried over quite well. Neither actor deviates too much from their comfort zones, but it works.
Safety Not Guaranteed doesn’t rewrite the indie-formula, but it takes a turn away that’s just enough to allow it to stand out from the pack. The film’s silliness, its quirky characters, and its soundtrack blend together nicely for ninety minutes that continues to resonate with the audience long after the credits finish rolling. In a world full of remakes, rip-offs, and sequels, it’s nice to see a film without lofty expectations to reinvent the wheel
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