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Safety Not Guaranteed (Blu-ray Review)

27 Oct, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Street 10/30/12
Sony Pictures
Box Office $4.01 million
$30.99 DVD, $35.99 Blu-ray
‘R’ for language including some sexual references.
Stars Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson.

It’s always fun to watch a movie with journalism as a thematic backdrop considering the vocation in real-life is often repetitively mundane.

Then again, not every magazine has an intern like Darius (Aubrey Plaza from “Parks and Recreation”), an underappreciated (and very cute) nerd-girl who likes adventure of the unconventional kind. Together with fellow geek-tern Arnau (Karan Soni) and womanizing editor Jeff (Jake Johnson from “New Girl”), the trio set out to unravel the mystery surrounding a classified ad seeking someone to accompany a fellow time traveler.

“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.”

So reads the ad, which after a quick stake out at the local small-town post office is revealed to have been placed by Kenneth (Mark Duplass of “The League”), an emotionally scarred man-child store clerk convinced government agents are after him (they are). Kenneth lives in a house inherited after his parents passed away. He says he’s building a time machine (he really is) to go back in time to contact an old girlfriend (Kristen Bell, in a brief but pleasant appearance) he claims has died (she hasn’t).

Darius, who blames her social awkwardness in part for her mother’s premature death, develops an immediate kinship with Kenneth and takes the lead on the story. This suits Jeff fine since his ulterior motive is shacking up with an old high school flame who lives in the area — and getting virgin Arnau laid.

Needless to say, everyone involved has a backstory with enough damage to go around. This lies at the heart of delightfully poignant Safety Not Guaranteed.

With the film reportedly shot on a $750,000 budget, the extras convey the angst filmmakers felt on the tight shoot schedule and challenges involved in constructing and transporting the time machine vehicle for the movie’s finale. Another special feature showcases the casting of Plaza in her first movie lead. With a deadpan delivery and captivating big eyes, Plaza carries much of the movie. Her wit and charm “guaranteed” in every scene.

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