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'Safety Not Guaranteed' bucks rom-com trends with heart and smarts

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Safety Not Guaranteed


With the summer season well underway, Austinites find themselves inundated with big-budget action blockbusters left and right, and it can be difficult to find something a bit more low key and well-built. With a quick search, however, film fans can find a few smaller films spread around the market that are well worth their time, one of the best of which might just be the latest film from relative unknown Colin Tevorrow, the sci fi dramedy, "Safety Not Guaranteed". While it may not have the special effects budget or big-name actors that many of this year's summer hits are boasting, "Safety Not Guaranteed" has more heart and more humor than most of them combined, and now Austinites can see it for themselves. With skilled performances from its leads, and a whip-smart script, "Safety Not Guaranteed" is the perfect solution for those looking for a break from the usual summer fair.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" has, at its heart, a very simple premise. A group of magazine writers investigate a article in the newspaper classifieds asking for someone with whom to travel back in time. Along the way, however, we're treated to some real pathos, as well as a health dose of laughs, as this trio of writers, and the man who brought them together, begin to learn things about themselves, and each other, they never knew before. Romance, intrigue, and political conspiracy aplenty follow, creating more action and suspense than would suspect from a small, romance heavy film. Though the film might sound a bit cliched to some viewers, allow me to quell any worries right now, for screenwriter Derek Connolly, as well as skilled performances from the entire cast, turn this would-be rote work into something truly original.

Aubrey Plaza has made a name for herself in recent years with her sarcastic and cynical persona, whether it be in films such as "Scott Pilgrim vs the World" or her role as April Ludgate in the critically acclaimed TV comedy "Parks and Recreation", but her role as Darius in "Safety Not Guaranteed" allows her the chance to spread her acting chops. Throughout the film, she shows a vulnerability and emotional complexity that many audiences may not have seen from her, as a slow chemistry grows between her and Kenneth, played by "The League's" Mark Duplass. There are times when Darius still feels like an extension of a character we've seen before, but Plaza does create a character that is quite easy to fall in love with, and one that we'd love to spend more time with once we hit movie's end.

Categorizing "Safety Not Guaranteed" can be a difficult task, because it shares so many elements from several different genres. With the Duplass brothers producting, creators of such films as "Jeff Who Lives at Home" and"Hannah Takes ths Stairs", producing(and one of them starring), it would be easy to write the film off as another bigger-budget mumblecore piece, but the production values are much too high to fall in with such a crowd. At the same time, it has many of the elements of a romantic comedy, sharing the basic structure of the classic rom com "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days". Add in the time travel element, and we get a sci fi angle that confuses matters even more. The truth is, it's all these things, and yet it transcends them all as well, becoming its own unique brand of film, and one that's a nice vacation from the explosions and superheroes that have filled the cinemas of late.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" is now playing at Arbor Cinema 8 at Great Hills and Tinseltown 20, so be sure to get your tickets now for this lovely genre-bender soon before it leaves theaters.