Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we come back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety Not Guaranteed. I have only done this once before.
That pretty much sums it up. That’s it. Review over! Now go watch Safety Not Guaranteed.
I guess the above might not convince everybody. I understand if more than half of you finished that first paragraph with raised eyebrows.
The film starts with Darius, played by Aubrey Plaza, who you might recognize as the not-so-charming April from the hit TV show Parks and Rec. She’s fairly unhappy in life. Part of it has to do with her internship at a Seattle magazine and part with her past. Jeff (Jake Johnson), senior magazine reporter, wants to do a story about the man behind the classified ad (refer to first paragraph) and takes along two interns, Darius and Arnau (Karan Soni). They make their way out to picturesque Ocean View to track down the alleged ‘time traveller’, Kenneth (Mark Duplass).
Each of them has a personal agenda on the ‘work’ trip. Jeff wants to reconnect with an old flame from high school. Arnau, who’s pursuing a biomedical degree, just wants to add magazine experience to his all-round resume. Darius is possibly the most curious of them all, the most empathetic to Ken’s crazy ways. Let’s face it - Ken is not your normal guy. Ken works at a grocery store. Ken drives a beat-up old yellow classic. Ken steals lasers from a science lab for his time machine. Ken performs martial arts and various other drills involving guns to train for his ‘mission’. To sum it up, he takes his time travel very seriously.
At the surface, it’s a funny suspense-thriller of sorts. But beneath it, complex themes lurk. Nothing is guaranteed in life - not your next paycheck, not your girlfriend, not your wife, not your present, not your future, nothing. More than anything else, it tests the viewer’s faith - will Kenneth go back in time or will he live on in the present? No matter what side of the fence you’re on (even if you’re on the fence about it), it will keep you interested throughout.
Darius is very much an extension of April Ludgate of Parks and Rec which is why Plaza is a shoo-in for the role. Mark Duplass is …. well, Mark Duplass. I’ve watched plenty of his movies and he almost always delivers a reliable performance - nothing too horrible, nothing too brilliant. Jake Johnson is quite delightful as Jeff.
Watch it if you liked: Jeff Who Lives At Home, which came out earlier this year, or if you think time travel is funny.
Check it out at the Cedar Lee. It's guaranteed to play another week.