American director Colin Trevorrow’s Safety Not Guaranteed (2012) is just the type of sweet-natured, low budget indie comedy (with an all-important intelligent heart) that has slowly become synonymous with the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival. Starring rising star Aubrey Plaza, Jake M. Johnson and US mumblecore actor/director Mark Duplass, Safety Not Guaranteed is a pitch perfect slice of contemporary American cinema, complete with an intriguing sci-fi twist. When protagonist Jeff (Johnson), a Seattle magazine reporter, suggests a pitch about a peculiar classiﬁed ad in a local paper, he’s swiftly whisked off to investigate.
The magazine advert that Jeff has stumbled upon simply reads; “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.” Desperate to ﬁnd out more about this eye catching advert Jeff heads to the small coastal town it originated from accompanied by two interns; the plucky, yet dry humoured Darius (Plaza) and the bookish Arnau (Karan Soni).
Using its intriguing science fiction premise to bulk out the ﬁlm’s overriding theme of regret, Trevorrow’s ﬁlm has far more in common with a life-afﬁrming road movie or coming of age comedy than it does with special effects laden blockbusters. It’s this focus on character development and a natural, smart and often hilarious script which makes Trevorrow’s sci-fi such a immensely enjoyable ﬁlm. Every single member of the ﬁlm’s minute cast puts in a tremendous performance, however, Johnson as the roguish man-boy reporter is perhaps the most endearing.
The delivery of his lines and ability to allow the audience to warm to his childlike obnoxiousness is superb, stealing the spotlight from Plaza’s starring role and even outdoing Duplass’ Timothy Treadwell-inspired eccentric, obsessive time traveller. Highly original and incredibly entertaining, Safety Not Guaranteed is just the type of refreshing and intelligent ﬁlm worth waiting for – a real jewel in the crown for American indie cinema.