June 04, 2012


Colesmithey.comMagic realism takes hold in newbie director Colin Trevorrow’s confident romantic comedy. It doesn’t hurt that Aubrey Plaza (of television’s “Parks and Recreation”) and Mark Duplass share some cool chemistry. Darius Britt (Plaza) is a disaffected Generation Z chick who stubbles into a job as an intern for a magazine. A story idea based on a newspaper ad entitled “Safety Not Guaranteed” inspires Darius to team up with sex-obsessed staff writer Jeff (Jake Johnson) and fellow intern Arnau (Karan Soni), a nerdy virgin without much common sense.

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The promising ad boldly states: “Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid when we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

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For narcissistic Jeff the story means a trip to Ocean View, Washington where he had a memorable sexual experience with a girl he wants to look up for a rematch. Darius’s motivations are more genuinely based in curiosity. Upon meeting Matthew (Duplass), the ad’s grocery-clerk author, Darius senses a kinship with her subject. Like Darius, Matthew is an antisocial misfit who has spent a lot of time mulling over what makes the world tick. Duplass’s doughy charm is a natural foil for the bespectacled Darius who shares his serious minded sense of adventure. Scenes of the pair engaging in martial arts-styled training practices arrive with warm-hearted humor.

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Written by newcomer Derek Connolly, “Safety Not Guaranteed” makes good on its dubiously proposed fantasy elements while embracing the needs of its emotionally crippled characters. Here’s a small movie with big dreams and a lot of heart.

Rated R. 85 mins.

3 Stars

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