Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Safety Not Guaranteed (Rhoades)

“Safety Not Guaranteed”
Is Guaranteed Funny

Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Time travel could be dangerous, given the paradoxes involved. And there’s a new movie on that very subject titled “Safety Not Guaranteed.”
This comedy was inspired by a 1997 classified ad that appeared in the back pages of Backwoods Home Magazine, a publication about practical rural living that’s based in Oregon. It read:

Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box ... You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.

Turns out it was just a joke ad written as a filler for the magazine’s classified section by Senior Editor John Silveira. However, it spawned a plethora of Internet memes … and eventually a movie from the producers of “Little Miss Sunshine.”
This wacky time-out-of-joint film is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
In this fictionalized version of the story, a writer with a Seattle magazine takes two interns on a field trip to a seaside town to investigate this strange classified ad. His secret agenda is to reconnect with a former girlfriend who lives there. Meanwhile, one of the interns finds the guy behind the ad, a stock clerk in a local grocery store. The guy says he wants to go back in time and prevent the death of his old girlfriend who was killed when someone drove a car into her house. But he explains that his mission could be dangerous because government agents are stalking him.
Remember that old saying? Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not … etc.? Well, it’s true in this case.
Comedian Jake Johnson (TV’s “New Girl”) leads the charge as the cynical magazine writer. Aubrey Plaza (TV’s “Parks and Recreation”) is the deadpan intern who makes a heart-to-heart connection with the proposed time traveler. Karan Soni is the second intern. And we have Mumblecore veteran Mark Duplass (last seen in “Your Sister’s Sister”) as the eccentric stock clerk who placed the classified ad that sets everything in motion.
The result of all this hoo-ha is a tad predictable, but funny and satisfying and poignant with a touch of magical realism. It got a standing ovation at Sundance Film Festival.
John Silveira, the real-life magazine editor who wrote the original classified ad, has a walk-on part in the movie. He’s also listed in the credits as a “Time Travel Consultant.”
I wonder what Silveira might write to fill that classified ad space if he could go back and  do it over again?

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