Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Quirky, Offbeat Treat

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Quirky, Offbeat Treat

Article excerpt

'Safety Not Guaranteed" is a movie that involves time travel, but it's not science fiction. Instead it's a funny/sad piece about a bunch of people whose lives are brought together by the prospect of going into the past, and what effect that possibility has on them.

Do people really travel through time? I won't tell you, not only because I don't want to give too much away, but as I said this question is really not critical to the movie's considerable success.

This oft-delightful indie acts as a counterpoint to "Moonrise Kingdom," the recent Wes Anderson film that I have criticized as being relentlessly quirky just for the sake of self-indulgence. The characters in "Safety" are also off-kilter and even weird, but watching them one senses their strange behavior occurs because of who they are, not because they're putting on a performance.

In a sense, the people in "Safety" appear odd because that's our outward perception of their inner core, whereas the folks in "Moonrise" behave strangely because they construct and maintain an identity based on others' reactions to their oddness.

Aubrey Plaza is probably known to most people as the super- acerbic girl on television's "Parks and Recreation." I've enjoyed her immensely on that show, but I've often watched her on it or the tiny supporting parts she's had in movies and thought, "I'd love to see what she could do with a bigger canvas."

Here's my answer, and what a joy it is. There are notes of her character on "Parks" -- a cynical young woman sullenly navigating a post-college landscape without much success or enthusiasm. But Darius is a much fuller, fleshier portrait with subtle layers. Here's hoping Plaza has more roles like this on the horizon.

Her counterpart is Mark Duplass as Kenneth, who places an ad in the paper seeking a partner for time travel. "This is not a joke," the ad insists. "You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before."

Darius, who interns at the fictional Seattle Magazine, is sent along with a veteran reporter and another intern to check out this odd announcement and write a story about the person behind it. …

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