A quirky and funny story about the way regrets and faded dreams in life build up over time

Featuring

Aubrey Plaza as Darius Britt
Mark Duplass as Kenneth Calloway
Jake Johnson as Jeff Schwensen
Karan Soni as Arnau
with Jenica Bergere as Liz
and Kristen Bell as Belinda

Safety Not Guaranteed is one of those small, quirky movies that probably wouldn’t do very well in theatres here in Australia. It’s not particularly exciting, it’s got a sense of humour that’s off centre, and it speaks softly of regret, ambition and how you may pass through life with dreams that fade away rather than becoming reality.

The premise of the story is that the main characters, Darius, Jeff and Arnau work for the Seattle Magazine, who are looking for ideas for a story when a nondescript ad in a newspaper catches their eye. The ad reads:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

Wondering what would possess someone to post such an ad, whether by mischief or genuine intent, the three set off to find, meet and research the person responsible. After some basic investigation, they find out the man responsible for the ad is Ken Calloway, a checkout dude at the local supermarket. What follows is a slow burn adventure about hopes, dreams and regrets.

We find out that Darius wouldn’t mind going back in time, certainly to prevent her mother’s death in a car accident and that everyone wishes they had some means to do the things they regret not accomplishing when they were younger. Jeff wants to get back with a high school girlfriend who, despite not retaining all of her youthful good looks is still very much the person he remembers. These are all things that stem from actions that they regret from when they were young and unaware of the consequences.

By watching these characters, and comparing their inner pain with that of the innocent and sheltered intern, Arnau, you can sort of understand just why some people (or many people) end up having a midlife crisis. Their regrets eat away at their everyday lives until they have to go out there and strike away that feeling. At every single point, Jeff encourages Arnau to get out there and enjoy his life, maximise his fun while still young and not worry about making mistakes. The consequences of that could be regrets down the road, but that’s probably for when he grows old enough to regret it!

Admittedly, the movie isn’t all that funny, despite being labelled as a comedy. It’s probably not meant to be, or it is and I just found the message within a little bit sadder than I thought. Not much really happens in the movie itself, especially the first half an hour, which makes you sit around waiting for some great revelation. There are of course, funny parts, where Kenneth of Arnau get themselves into trouble or say something incredibly silly, and the casting and writing are top notch. But, at its core, Safety Not Guaranteed is about growing up and moving on (or not) with your life despite all the setbacks. They can either be buried, or you can fight for the happy ending that you’ve always wanted.

Rating

It’s a quirky and funny story with a message to get off your arse.

Should I watch it?

It’s probably not for everyone, but if it makes you feel motivated enough to get off your arse and change something about your life, then perhaps it will be worth it.

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