Saturday, January 19, 2013

Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed is a truly great independent comedy. This is the type of off beat comedy that more people need to be watching instead of another mediocre Judd Apatow production. The characters are well developed, the dialogue is natural, and the story is genuinely engaging. Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, and Karan Soni combine to form one of the funniest casts of the year.

We all know that classic story, man puts classified in paper seeking partner to time travel with, he meets a girl pretending to be interested, but she is really writing a story on him. I've seen it happen a thousand times. The story revolves around Darius Britt (Aubrey Plaza), an intern at Seattle magazine, who is assigned to help on a story about a man, Kenneth (Mark Duplass) looking for a companion to time travel with. She goes with Jeff (Jake Johnson), the main writer of the article, and Arnau, a fellow intern, to a small town in Washington where the man who wrote the classified ad lives. We are then taken on a journey of self discovery and potential time traveling shenanigans.

Aubrey Plaza is one of the bright young female comedians that are currently working in Hollywood, and this movie seems to her statement to the industry that she is here to stay. Her character is very easy to relate to because most people were social outcasts at some point in their lives and that is the plight of her character. She finds it hard to relate to the people around her and eventually she gravitates towards this man on a mission to fix a wrong in his past. As she begins to go along and actually believe that Kenneth will be able to actually build the device he needs to time travel, she starts to actually come out her shell and begin living her life. If this performance is coming in her first starring role, then I can't wait to see what she comes up with along the course of her career.

It is really hard to believe that Pete from The League is actually a pretty fantastic dramatic actor to go along with his comedy and writing skills. Mark Duplass gives an inspired performance and continued his breakout year. It is hard to believe that he is part of the funniest show on TV (The League), the best comedy of the year (Safety Not Guaranteed), and the best drama of the year (Zero Dark Thirty). He makes his character, Kenneth, seem both out of his mind and sane all at the same time because his ideas are wacky but his reasons are so grounded. He simply wants to be transported back to a better time in his life but happens to be building an actual time machine to accomplish his goals. His chemistry with Plaza is great and they never seem awkward on screen together and you can see how they become great friends over the course of the movie.

The main plot is awesome and it was great to see a sci-fi spin put on the "self discovery drama/comedy". The Duplass Brothers really should have gotten more love during award season because they wrote one of the best original movies of the year and it was leaps and bounds better than some of the movies nominated for Academy Awards. The B plots of the movie, Jeff trying to connect with a former fling, and Arnau becoming a "man", are fun but they sometimes take the focus off of the main story which you never want to be taken away from. That is my only real complain with the movie. Everyone in the movie gives above average performances with Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass being the breakout stars of the movie.

Safety Not Guaranteed is leaps and bounds ahead of your typical indie comedy. With a great original story, awesome characters, and witty dialogue, The Duplass Bros. have crafted one of the best movies of the year. More people need to discover this movie and give it the credit that it deserves.