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Netflix Fix: 'Safety Not Guaranteed' a fresh romp worth the risk

By By Luis Rendon/LRendon@vicad.com
Feb. 27, 2013 at 11:03 a.m.
Updated Feb. 26, 2013 at 8:27 p.m.

Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza star in "Safety Not Guaranteed."

WATCH IF

• "Half Nelson"

• R

• 1 hour and 46 minutes

• Watch if you want to see Ryan Gosling at his best. His sole Oscar nomination comes from this small indie flick.

• "Weakness"

• Not rated, I'd say R

• 1 hour and 37 minutes

• Watch if you've got some time to kill and love Bobby Cannavale. Indies can sometimes be slow, but this one is sloooooow.

• "The King's Speech"

• R

• 1 hour and 58 minutes

• Watch if you love "Downtown Abbey." This period film is funny, dramatic and Colin Firth is stellar.

Two are better than one. No man is an island. The cliches that reinforce the belief that man is a social creature, that we are better together than we are apart are endless. But they are cliche for a reason.

"Safety Not Guaranteed" (Rated R) is a fresh take on this theme of togetherness.

The movie revolves around two missions. The first belongs to three magazine employees who are sent out to investigate a man who has placed a mysterious classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. Aubrey Plaza takes the lead of this team as Darius, an intern who has become jaded and isolates herself after her mother passes away. Jake Johnson (you know him as Nick on New Girl) as Jeff and Karan Soni (a newcomer) as Arnau round out the group.

The second mission belongs to Kenneth (played by UT alum Mark Duplass), the paranoid supermarket clerk who desperately wants to travel back in time.

When Darius and Kenneth meet, these missions collide, providing for an interesting push and pull as the two loners begin to form a meaningful relationship under the ruse that Darius wants to be Kenneth's travel companion.

While Darius and Kenneth prepare for time travel, Jeff and Arnau are also on smaller quests to find companionship. Jeff, a shallow magazine writer hoping to just hook up with an old high school flame, begins to shed his crass exterior when he starts pining for his old sweetheart's simpler way of life. Arnau, a self-conscious geek, has a less sweet story but not less endearing as Jeff helps him lose his virginity.

Darius knows there is no way Kenneth can time travel, but she feels a connection to him and doesn't think he's crazy to want a do-over. As Kenneth becomes more and more serious about the trip - stealing from government scientists and becoming the concern of FBI agents, combined with information that points to a very unstable Kenneth - Darius must decide what the limits of believing are.

"To go it alone or to go with a partner," Kenneth says at the end of the movie. "When you choose a partner you have to have compromises and sacrifices, but it's a price you pay."

Honored last week with two wins at the Independent Spirit Awards, "Safety Not Guaranteed" never goes for the easy laughs and walks the line of sweet and sour, balancing all the cynicism and paranoia with earnest moments of honesty and sincerity. The movie goes for broke by the end, enforcing that it doesn't matter where you go as long as you have a friend along for the ride.

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