Saturday, July 07, 2012

"Safety Not Guaranteed" for time travel companion seeking another chance; Duplass brothers like sci-fi to be "puffy"


You can tell that “Safety Not Guaranteed” is a Duplass Brothers movie (they are executive producers) even before you see the time adventurer, a 40-ish grocery store clerk Kenneth (Mark Duplass).  Just the goofy style – you expect to see a puffy chair in the first motel scene.

The premise is interesting. Jeff (Jake M. Johnson) gets assigned two interns, Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and Arnau (Karan Soni) to do a story about a guy who advertised for a time travel partner in their hip Seattle magazine.  (The companion must bring his or her own weapon.)  Right off the bat, we have a good question – is it ethical or legal for media companies to get their dirty work done by unpaid interns? (See Books blog, Ross Perlin’s “Intern Nation”, June 8, 2011). It gets worse when Jeff shares the motel room as they go to coastal Washington State to hunt down the purported time traveler. Darius gets her own bed, and Arnau (a quite handsome 21 year old) gets pointers on how to pick up girls.

They track down Kenneth, and, after some subterfuge, he agrees that Darius would make for a totally appropriate platonic companion (the script mentions that she is a lesbian).  We start getting into the paradoxes of his life history, and wonder if this proof that time travel can work (despite the unidirectional nature of the “time arrow of physics”).  Furthermore, fibbies – bald G-men in good clothes – are chasing him.

The end may seem like a combination of “Contact” with “Another Earth”.  Maybe people get another chance.  But, up to the conclusion, this film doesn't take itself too seriously.

The idea that a journalist is “challenged” by some mystery close to home can make for an interesting premise. In my screenplay “Titanium”, a philandering young journalist is confronted by reports that his pregnant fiancé has “gone up” during a violent Texas storm accompanied by UFO sightings, when the police are not impressed.


The director is Colin Trevorrow and the line producer is Derek Connolly.

The official site (from Film District, Alliance Atlantis and Big Beach Films) is here

I saw the film at the AMC Shirlington in Arlington on a Saturday afternoon.  There were some projection problems, as one channel of sound often dropped out.


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