Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Six Brief Notes On Safety Not Guaranteed

As I've alluded to from time to time, I don't really see first-run movies these days -- babysitters are expensive, work expansive. It's just not something I expect to do -- it's not so much that I want to and can't as that the idea doesn't really occur to me. But life happens, friends from out of town visit (thanks, Barry!), the stars align, and exceptions occur. So a few days ago, I actually saw a first-run movie in an actual theater: Safety Not Guaranteed. To mark the occasion I wanted to say a few things about it, none of which will spoil anything beyond the first ten minutes of the movie, except one note about the presence of a particular actor in a minor role.

1) Safety Not Guaranteed has a neat set-up. The idea is this. A reporter for a magazine, looking for a story, hones in on this classified ad:
Wanted: Somebody 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.
He decides to check out the guy, to see if he is nuts, running a scam or (just maybe) someone who has built a time machine. He takes two interns with him, one of whom -- played by Aubrey Plaza -- is the protagonist and main viewpoint character of the film. And they go meet the guy who placed the ad.

2) Safety Not Guaranteed is fabulous. It's really, really funny. It's a fabulous character piece, with (in particular) the characters of the intern, the reporter and the man who placed the ad all being fabulous, rich characters with multiple sides. It's well-directed, well-acted, well-written. Really, this is a superb film. Go see it.

3) ...but don't read other reviews, or even really see the preview, before you do, because they all give away too much. I went into the film knowing nothing more than I just outlined in #1 (all of which, again, is laid out right at the movie's beginning), and am really glad I did. But the preview gives more away, and most of the reviews I've seen really give a lot away. Things the movie keeps you guessing about -- like what really is up with the guy who places the ad -- reviews spoil. (Hell, Ebert spoiled the very end of the film in his review.) I think it'd still be worth seeing -- there's a lot more here than the bare plot -- but why not have the full experience? If you want to see it knowing the plot, you can always see it again. (I probably won't -- as I said, I don't really see movies in theaters these days -- but I'd love to see it again if I could.) So avoid spoilers: go see the movie on my sole say-so. You'll be glad you did.

4) Kristen Bell, aka Veronica Mars, has a small role in the movie.

5) The ad in the movie, it turns out, is real -- taken word-for-word for real life, with only the P.O. Box and the sentence order changed. The filmmakers just took the ad and wrote a movie about it. Here's a story by the guy who placed the ad explaining the real reason why he did it. No spoilers for the movie, of course, since they made up their own ad-placer and own story totally different from the real one.

6) The second volume in the Hereville series, Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite, is coming out in November and is available for pre-order on Amazon. Here's my review of the fabulous first volume in the series. And if you don't see what this has to do with Safety Not Guaranteed, Noble Reader, then you're not reading carefully.

1 comment:

Barry Deutsch said...

Hey, thanks! For the link, and the post. I had no idea that it was based on a real ad.