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Bring your own weapons

Dylan Dobson, 4Play Editor
December 12, 2012
Filed under 4Play

“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. Safety not Guaranteed.”

So goes the classified ad fueling the plot behind the indie romantic comedy film, “Safety Not Guaranteed.” Based on a real advertisement featuring similar content, the film follows a group of young journalists as they follow Kenneth, a man with a shaded past attempting to make amends by traveling back in time using a homemade time machine. Along the way, each character is forced to confront their idea of romance, belief and relationships.

The film was well-received by critics who applauded its witty writing, emotional core and unique premise.

Aubry Plaza lends her deadpan charm to her character and is, as expected, the high point of an otherwise lackluster film.

The film’s ending also represents a serious risk that will surely surprise viewers accustomed to clean and logical resolutions. It never tries to be anything more than a “Napoleon Dynamite”-styled film filled with outsiders spouting sarcastic one-liners like a 95-pound freshman woman spouting vomit at her first frat party. That’s not to say the film is without its flaws.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” suffers from pacing issues. The first half-hour of the film is painfully slow with little in the way of witty banter to keep viewers interested. Even when the plot begins to pick up speed, people who have seen the film’s trailers will find they already know the best morsels of repartee.

Another problem is the film’s believability. While suspension of disbelief is essential to the film’s premise, it takes too many turns too quickly. The characters seem incredibly naive and reckless, bordering on indie film stereotypes. Even worse, it’s difficult to follow each character’s intentions due to an unclear script.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” is, like many indie flicks, about the niche that romantics fill in an increasingly disconnected society. There are some beautiful pieces of yarn in this handknit llama-wool mitten of a flick, existential moments in time that play out like frames in a “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip. However, like such a mitten, there are also strings out of place and moments of discomfort where the pieces just don’t fall into place as they should.

Fans of Plaza and indie films will enjoy this tale of unlikely friendship and redemption. Others will more than likely be put off by its incessant quirkiness and scattered plot.

“Safety Not Guaranteed” is now available on DVD.