Let’s start with the bottom line: Safety Not Guaranteed is one of the best films of the year. Aubrey Plaza is phenomenal in the lead as Darius Britt, a magazine intern who goes undercover to investigate a man looking for a partner to travel back in time with.
Colin Trevorrow makes an absolutely fantastic feature directorial debut from a terrific script by Derek Connolly (also making his feature debut), and along with the Duplass brothers on board as executive producers, they’ve assembled a brilliant co-leading cast featuring Jake Johnson as Darius’ higher-up, Karan Soni as a fellow intern, and Mark Duplass himself as Kenneth, the man who puts out the following ad:
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.
Guaranteed to be the funniest film of the year, with more laugh-out-loud moments than you have any right to ask of one film, I really can’t recommend it enough.
The writing is pure genius, with a perfect blend of comedy, drama, intellect, and heart that is truly rare on the big screen.
Setting out as cynics of Kenneth’s time-travelling knowledge, the three journalists are slowly seduced by the irrational possibility: What if this guy is the genuine article?
The ensuing journeys all four of the leads take in their separate and joint paths are an utter delight to watch unfold, with Plaza and Duplass’ partnership especially making for some of the funniest and touching moments throughout. And Benjamin Kasulke’s cinematography is magnificent in bringing out the beauty, the charm, and the comedy in every moment to its full effect.
Its soundtrack, too, complements the film wonderfully. Kenneth shows Darius a song he’s been writing part-way through that will just floor you, sending shivers down your spine it’s so good. Another amazing highlight comes in Ryan Miller and Mark Duplass’ song, Big Machine, one of the best end-credits closers I can recall – the OST will be very much required listening to pick up when it’s released. (Make sure you stay through the credits so you can see what I mean.)
In short, Safety Not Guaranteed is one of the best, most original, and genuinely inspired films I’ve seen in longer than I can remember. It features exceptional performances from the entire cast (many of which are career-best, which is saying something), a heartfelt story, and an extremely talented eye behind the camera telling it, one I’m looking forward to seeing more from in the future.
This is independent filmmaking at its best, making it absolutely essential viewing. It is flawless. And I’ll be the first in the queue when it’s released in the UK later this year. I really hope you’ll join me, because it so deserves to find its audience. I have a feeling this is a film we’ll all be talking about for years to come.