“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. I have only done this once before. SAFTEY NOT GUARANTEED.”
The above classified advertisement along with a contact PO Box address that appeared in a local paper near Seattle Washington sets the stage for Safety Not Guaranteed. The ad intrigues a reporter for a Seattle based magazine. Is the man who placed it crazy, disturbed or legit? For reasons of his own he sells his editor on the idea of checking it out as a human interest story. He takes along two interns: one of whom, Darius, ends up applying for the position in order to get the story behind the ad.
Mark Duplass is cast as Kenneth, the writer of the ad, and a clerk at the local grocery. He is not the type of person you would expect to invent a time machine. Truth be told, you would expect his character to be wearing a tin foil hat, convinced that the government is spying on him. Aubrey Plaza, as Darius, is the young magazine intern who signs up with him to seek out the story. It appears that Kenneth is indeed quite off mentally, but he also has a vulnerability that Darius finds interesting and easy to be around. Kenneth is obviously somewhat paranoid and at times this paranoia appears to be justified. There are, in fact, people after him, but the question the film asks is why? The film gives you several possible and very good reasons, none of which involve a time machine. The film is a bit of a black comedy but with many feel good touches that keep you interested, involved and caring about the characters and what is happening to them. There are several side stories also going on as well so the film will take you on a trip from point A to Point B, but it will sidetrack you a few times along way with C and D. According to IMDB (Internet Movie Data Base) the part of Darius was written specifically for Aubrey Plaza. If true, this may be why the part seems to fit her so well. What of Mark Duplass’ paranoid Kenneth and his dreams of time travel? Working in a library I see people like him almost every day. This film made me think a little differently about them. Perhaps it will do the same for you.