The Reel: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ successfully bends film genres


Ben Conniff

A few nights ago, I hopped over to Netflix to check out Colin Trevorrow’s debut feature “Safety Not Guaranteed,” a charmer that puts its own spin on sci-fi. It was given a very limited release, and unless you spend your time trolling the internet for movie news, it’s likely this film slipped underneath your radar.

I found out about “Safety” at some point on IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes; trailers, positive critics ratings, etc. But most of all, and even much like the characters themselves, I think I was simply drawn to the mystique of the title “Safety Not Guaranteed” and, if you’ve seen it, the minimalistic theatrical poster that goes along with it.

Aside from the fact that the poster bills the movie as one “from the producers of ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’” you really don’t know if you should expect a sci-fi action adventure or a comedy. Or both. It’s that level of mystery that called my attention to this film and prompted me to take a look.

I’m really glad I did, because I was very pleasantly surprised. 

“Safety Not Guaranteed” has a simple, tender story with loads of heart and is packed with laughs that feel earned as opposed to potty jokes that come cheap.

It tells the story of three Seattle magazine writers (Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni) who hit the road to find the man responsible for issuing a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel (Mark Duplass). In the process, the three find love, have misadventures, and learn to believe in the impossible.

To keep myself from avoiding too many spoilers and to preserve the “Safety” of the film’s overall effect, I’ll simply leave it at that.

I will tell you, however, that the ending feels slightly contrived. It’s great right up until the last few seconds before the credits. At 86 minutes, “Safety” is almost too short. I was left with several unanswered questions about the characters that could’ve been resolved with an extra ten minutes or so. I’m uncertain at this time about the prospect of a sequel, so the true outcome might just be left to the imagination.

Update your Netflix queues and be sure to check out “Safety Not Guaranteed.” It’s got a great story, charming performances, lots of laughs, and earns high marks for being a true sci-fi/comedy genre-bender. It’ll make you believe in the impossible, too.