Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

safety not guaranteed

“Listen to me. You come to that launch site at 5:00, you take my hand, and I’ll show you who can’t time travel.”

The Scoop: 2012 R, directed by Colin Trevorrow and starring Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Mark Duplass, and Karan Soni

Tagline: N/A

Summary Capsule: A magazine intern gets drug along to get the story on a personal ad about time travel put up by some kook… or is he?


Eunice’s rating: Then you say “go slow I fall behind” The second hand unwinds

Eunice’sreview: I saw the trailer for Safety Not Guaranteed awhile ago and thought, ‘That looks interesting. I think I’d like to see that.’ And hey it was streaming, ‘Cool. I’ll just put that on my list for later.’ And then I actively avoided watching it. I just- I just really didn’t want to be disappointed. Am I the only one who does this? I also sometimes stop reading books because I don’t want a character to die (’cause that’s totally how it works, and is not crazy at all). But I steeled myself, looked the movie in the eye, and dared it to disappoint me, “Go ahead, Movie. Just go ahead and spit at my investment of precious time and hope that you won’t suck.” And while it wasn’t entirely what I expected, I enjoyed myself. In fact, it wasn’t even just different it was better than I expected.

Darius is an intern with a boss she hates at Seattle Magazine. After her mother died when she was a teenager she’s been stuck in that solid gray state of life when you don’t believe in anything and you don’t know what to do. So when an assignment that grabs her interest comes up that requires two interns, she volunteers. The assignment is investigating a personal ad by some guy who says he can time travel, but needs a partner. She’s teamed up with shallow jerk “journalist” Jeff and fellow intern Arnau who’s going for a masters in biological and life sciences and is at the magazine because diversity looks good on applications.

Darius is the one who does all of the investigating, since Jeff really just wanted to hook up with an old flame, and finds out the guy is someone named Kenneth. When Jeff comes to answer the ad Kenneth turns him down spotting him for a fake right off. So Jeff sends in Darius undercover with the logic that her weirdness will click with his weirdness and they’ll probably hit it off so they can get the story. At first Kenneth comes off like a looney conspiracy guy. But while she goes in thinking he’s completely insane (of course) she actually is having fun and starts to like him. When he starts stealing honest to goodness lasers and agents in suits start showing up, what started as a ‘Haha look at this freak show’ article starts to turn into a real story.

Safety Not Guaranteed follows two stories with Darius as the primary main character and Jeff as the main of the secondary line. In the second one, the town the personal ad came from is where Jeff had a summer fling when he was a teenager. Going back he has it in his mind that she hasn’t changed at all, and when he sees her for the first time he finds her physically repulsive, not because she’s ugly (Jenica Bergere is hot) though he tells himself that’s why, but because in his mind time hasn’t been moving forward. Being faced with this grown woman, he also faces that he’s not a young man anymore himself. He goes back, just to talk to -since she’s not the young blonde he remembers anymore- and ends up slowly falling in love with her. I really liked how this played out-

[Spoiler warning]
-Where Jeff has been living in emotional stasis, Liz has grown into someone who knows who she is and who is content with herself and knows what makes her happy. Jake Johnson falling apart is the best acting I’ve ever seen on a go-kart.

I like the relationship between Darius and Jeff. Jeff may be an A-hole, but never in a malicious irredeemable way and there’s this weird thing where even though Darius finds him kind of disgusting they actually get along pretty well. Jeff totally sees through her and she totally sees through him. It’s hard to explain but I really liked it.

Going back to the idea that the longer you’re around a person the more attractive they can become as you’re accidentally falling in love, I like the relationship between Darius and Kenneth. Kenneth never stops being odd, but -and whether this is the movie showing Darius’ changing feelings, Kenneth becoming more confident around Darius, or both- the longer the movie goes on the less bat poop insane he seems. Their romance is so sweet. Bravo to the writing, acting, and directing pulling it off.

The movie isn’t so much about time travel, or if it’s possible to time travel, as it is about why would you go back. Jeff is stuck in the past not wanting to move forward from, what he at least remembers as being, his glory days. However, Darius and Kenneth want to go back and save people they care about not necessarily to just change to past, but to get closure so they can finally move forward.

If I have one quibble it’s that the movie could’ve used a continuity director, which being an indie film I’m guessing the budget said no. Between shots eyelines, head movemrnts, and hands and arms move all over the place. It’s not a deal breaker, but it is something that I noticed and if I hadn’t liked the movie so well it would’ve bugged the crap out of me.

So while looking back I can say how much I enjoyed it, I spent the whole time waiting for it to betray me. You guys know what I’m talking about I’m sure. Like, ‘oh this movie’s all funny and sweet in a smart way and we’re all having a good time.’ and then all of a sudden it one eighties on you and someone gets shot or comes down with cancer and it’s like the movie laughs at you and goes, ‘Joke’s on you, loser! I went for the emotional cheap shot!’ And then you feel all bad about being happy during the first half because you got bait and switch-ed.

But it didn’t. It came through for me. Which isn’t to say that it’s treacly or pandering, and while it has a bit of quirkiness it is definitely NOT wacky.

Safety Not Guaranteed just made me happy. In a good way not a cheap way. I came out of it just feeling downright really happy.

Time travel! Now with synchronized gun play.
Time travel! Now with synchronized gun play.


  • “The original classified ad upon which the film is based first appeared in Backwoods Home Magazine in 1997. It was written as last-minute filler by John Silveira, an employee of the magazine, who is credited in the film as “Time Travel Consultant” and also has a cameo. The ad was later featured on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (1992) in the “Headlines” segment, and eventually turned into an Internet meme before being developed into a screenplay.”
  • Schrödinger’s cat reference!
  • Me watching movie: “Holy- Ack! His ear!” Totally wasn’t expecting it

Groovy Quotes

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

Jeff: All right, give me the lesbian and the Indian and I got a story!

Darius: Why are you talking to my college roommate?
Darius’ Dad: We’re Facebook friends.

Darius: You wouldn’t want to see the dragons and the elves fighting each other in the magical forests? C’mon.
Arnau: No, that wasn’t a time.

Jeff: It’s all one long school year now. No start, no finish.

Jeff: I hope you moisturize, Arnau, ’cause I like to cuddle.

Darius: I’d be weirded out if some guy tried to track me down after 20 years.
Jeff: I’d be weirded out too if some guy tried to track you down.
Darius: Why?
Jeff: Who would do that?

Darius: You’re dangling my vagina out there like bait. What if this guy’s a murderer? What if he cuts me up into little pieces and eats me?
Jeff: Then the story’s even better.

Darius: Well, I just don’t want to get jerked around.
Kenneth: Jerking around is for jerks.

Kenneth: I really like your intensity. You’re, like, no nonsense.
Darius: Well, there’s no sense in nonsense. Especially when the heat’s hot.

Darius: [singing to self during the robbery] What am I doing? Why am I doing this? What am I doing? Why am I doing this?

Arnau: What kind of lasers?
Darius: I don’t know, I’m not a freakin’ Stormtrooper.

Arnau: Stormtroopers don’t know anything about lasers or time-travel. They’re blue-collar workers.

Jeff: This is ******* intense!
Darius: We’re going 15 miles per hour.

Kenneth: Listen to me. You come to that launch site at 5:00, you take my hand, and I’ll show you who can’t time travel.

Kenneth: The mission has been updated. I’m going back for you now. All Right. Do you trust me?

Kenneth: To go it alone, or to go with a partner. When you choose a partner you have to have compromises and sacrifices, but it’s the price you pay. Do I want to follow my every whim and desire as I make my way through time and space? Absolutely. But at the end of the day, do I need someone when I’m doubting myself and I’m insecure, and my heart’s failing me? Do I need someone who, when the heat gets hot, has my back.
Darius: So, do you?
Kenneth: I do.

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  1. I’ve been known to stop reading books if I see where the plot is going, and I’m like ‘no, I’ve been on this ride before’. It’s not even so much to do with predictability or even quality; it boils down to ‘I’m looking for a book with a certain special something, and this isn’t it’ – and sometimes, yeah, that includes a character that I like who’s clearly going to die. So in that sense, I understand where you’re coming from.
    I’m still not sure if this movie is for me – I’m really not much of a comedy guy – but it certainly does sound interesting the way you describe it. Maybe one of these days when I’m in the mood for something different, who knows.

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