“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box 91 Ocean View, WA 99393. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”
The above is the craigslist ad that inspires the plot of the film and the trip.
Safety Not Guaranteed starts out with three journalists who are going on a vacation… err a work trip for three very different reasons.
Jeff, or Nick as I like to call him from his breakout role on Fox’s New Girl, is a tool right away and is looking to go back to see his former girlfriend. Darius, the dark but lovely Aubrey Plaza, is going because she has nothing better to do. And Arnau is going because he is trying to gain diversity and experience for his grad school application.
Well, along the trip, Jeff gets kicked out for drinking beer at a high school game, gets rejected by his ex and then takes Arnau out to do “something stupid” with three young kids – gets Arnau drunk and hooks him up with one of the high schoolers.
The team does do some actual research while on vacation though. They scope out the town, introduce themselves to the author of the odd craigslist ad, Kenneth, and tail him to learn more about his mental state and planned adventure to the past.
While the awkward threesome tails Kenneth, he steals supplies a laser! while a company is having a birthday party.
In order to get the big scoop, Darius flirts with him at a grocery store and leaves her number for him on a soup can. Impressed, he invites her to hang out. When Darius confronts the traveler about why he wants to go back to the past, he stumbles over an answer. He states that his reason for going back is for a girl named Belinda who shared his birthday who died in her living room because a drunk driver crashed into it.
From there, the plot thickens. While spying on the date, Jeff and Arnau find out that Kenneth is being followed by some sort of government agents. Darius unknowingly delivers 100s of dollars to his coworker, Shannon. And Darius, of course, falls for the subject of their article.
She connects with him, finds out that he has a prosthetic ear and shares why she is going back with him. She still has guilt because of her mother’s death. After opening up to him, she feels close and kisses Kenneth the same night that Arnau hooks up with one of the random party girls Jeff found. Still smiling, she comes back to the hotel as Jeff gets a call from their editor back home. Apparently Belinda is alive and not dead in her living room. Cue suspenseful music here. Darius sets up an interview with the supposed dead girl.
Belinda ends up being Kristen Bell (woo!) and she describes him as the kid who was nice but not dateable. She tells Darius that Kenneth ran HIS car into HER new boyfriend’s living room and she told the police it was a hit-and-run to cover up for Kenneth.
Leaving the interview with Belinda, Darius and Jeff are confronted by two government agents. The dark suits admit they are tailing Kenneth because of the break-in, but also because of Kenneth’s recent contact with several specific scientists. The agents believe he may be a spy.
To warn him and to find out about “the incident”, Darius confronts him at his house, Nick and Arnau barge in, and Kenneth bails because he thinks they are making fun of him. They find his garage and discover that he has actually been building a time-traveling machine (speedboat with a particle accelerator…or something. It’s hard to explain, you wouldn’t understand). Will it work? Is he crazy? I don’t know.
For an indie flick, it was a fun ride of a film. The film also received a ridiculous 91% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Just to give you an idea of what a 91% means: Others at that level include There Will Be Blood, District 9 and Hairspray. That’s good company to be in!