REVIEW: Safety Not Guaranteed

19 06 2012

Maybe my response is partly Pavlovian due to four seasons of conditioning from “Parks and Recreation,” but I thought just about everything Aubrey Plaza said or did was hilarious in “Safety Not Guaranteed,” a quirky indie comedy featuring the comedic dynamo.  At best, her muted enthusiasm elicits gut-wrenching laughs; at worst, a good and wholehearted chuckle that leaves no after-taste of guilt.  So forget Tom Cruise’s half-baked rocker impersonation and Adam Sandler’s self-parodic baby voice; this is the summer comedy you deserve to see.  And then maybe see twice.

Plaza plays Darius, a magazine intern in Seattle working for an aspiring Miranda Priestly (a lovely cameo by Mary Lynn Rajskub, best known as Chloe from “24”).  Suffering from a bad case of cubicle tedium, she escapes by going out on assignment with Jeff, a lazy Lothario played with appropriately little decency or discretion by Jake Johnson, and a fellow intern Arnau, an Indian intern whose life motto must be “work hard, computer game harder.”  Together, the three investigate a very odd classified ad seeking a time traveling companion.

Don’t expect “Back to the Future” from “Safety Not Guaranteed,” though; this comedy follows all the antics leading up to a trip to the future with Mark Duplass’ Kenneth, the enigmatic man who placed the ad.  Darius must track him down, entice him, and then woo him into allowing her to see the details that would make an interesting piece.  The lines between the story and real feelings quickly blur, but the film has plenty of tricks up its sleeves along with an abundance of fantastic lines and nuanced comedic performances to guarantee satisfaction.  B+

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