Feed on

I cannot express in words just how excited I was when I found Safety Not Guaranteed on Netflix Instant. Oh sweet ecstasy. Okay, that’s a little too much but I was psyched! I had been looking forward to this movie with grand expectations. I am, after all, rather fond of Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson and I thoroughly enjoyed the trailers. Add to that, the genre classification of “science fiction comedy-drama,” and you’ve got a flick almost perfectly designed to appeal to me (and about twelve other oddballs).

So I made my popcorn and settled in for what I was sure would be a magical couple of hours. At this point, I must remind you, my dear reader, that expectations are often the enemy of enjoyment. Such was the case here. I had such high hopes and they were utterly dashed. I found Aubrey Plaza’s performance to be clunky. I thoroughly disliked Mark Duplass as the supposedly endearing mad scientist. I was completely disappointed with the filmmaker’s lack of attention to narrative or genuine character development. This film is filled to the brim with wasted opportunities that left me feeling hollow and unfulfilled.

But let’s take a step back. The truth is, Safety Not Guaranteed is not a bad film. This film contains some beautiful moments that come from a perfect marriage of writing, design and performance. Jake Johnson, in particular, delivers a lot with his underdeveloped character, and the writers make some daring and unexpected decisions along the way. Unfortunately, all this is marred by a high level of amateurish underdevelopment. The story and concept are only half thought-out. The characters never achieve three-dimensionality. The editing is loose, as though the film were delivered before the editor had a chance to polish his work. And finally, the film offers a conclusion for only the main plot. Any secondary story lines or characters are left hanging. Perhaps this is by design, but to me, it feels like the filmmakers ran out of time and/or ideas. So, while the film has some wonderful elements, as a whole it just doesn’t work. Of course, take everything I say with a grain of salt; this review might have read very differently if not for dashed hopes. C


Click on a tab to select how you'd like to leave your comment

Leave a Reply