I just finished watching a great movie by mistake, Safety Not Guaranteed. Another movie that remind me why I don’t like the big budget films anymore. I can’t relate to a super-attractive mutant trying to save the world. I can relate to an awkward person trying to understand the world. Each story is simple, but only one is real.
I thought I was just airing some random documentary about an old internet cliche, but it turns out this was a real movie. The setup is based off a pic that has been floating around the internet for years. Someone posted an ad that wanted volunteers to travel back in time. Safety not guaranteed, and even more ominously intriguing, “I’ve only done this once.”
Now before I get into the movie let me explain how I watch movies at home. I keep a laptop in front of me, and on the weekends, libations to the left of me. So forgive me if I miss some details that are only crucial to film-nuts. The fact that this movie gained 100% of my attention and inspired a blog post is all you really need to know. But here’s the review.
A simple, but hilarious plot of exploring an internet meme.
A hot lead actress.
A hot redhead.
Real characters that feel like they fell off your Facebook feed, or make you wish your Facebook feed had people like this.
The lack of a real menacing bad guy.
The high school football game scene that looks like actors trying to look like they’re at a high school football game.
The movie starts….and I don’t really pay attention other than I realize this isn’t a documentary. OK. It’s a movie. Some basic plot development happens. Three journalists are actually going to follow up on this ad. A cynical 30+ year-old, an eager newb, and the attractive heroine also on her first real assignment.
They find the guy, and he’s your basic Facebook nutjob; menial job, ranting about the government and conspiracy theories. They decide to approach him, and there is a simply brilliant scene which grabs me. The poor schlub is stacking cans of soup at his grocery store job, but he arranges them perfectly. It’s like the Andy Warhol soup cans. There’s beauty in the repetitive simplicity. The attractive heroine plays into the spy story to hook the protagonist, who believes he is an elite thinker/spy……stacking soup cans.
From here the movie has me. I’m not going to ruin it for you.
The characters are simple and real, and isn’t that what our friends are? Simple and real. Not stupid. We just understand them, simply.
The cynical guy is just looking to hook up, and abuse the company expense account.
The newb is looking to begin a career.
The heroine is looking for a story, but really she wants more out of life than a job.
The crazy guy is just misunderstood.
As the story progresses we find that the crazy guy with the ad really has a heart of gold. It may be childish, but he’s honest and real. You can’t help but love the poor guy, and the doe-eyed brunette is smitten too. (I really want to ruin this scene for you. I won’t.)
The cynical guy is meanwhile chasing down an old flame and lost youth. This ends in frustration, but he does the only heroic thing he can do. Make sure the 21-year-old intern doesn’t waste his youth. A night of alcohol-fueled debauchery ensues with a group of strangers that we don’t care about other than we’ve all had a night filled with strangers that were our best friends for that ONE night.
Sadly the next morning is filled with the clarity of being a responsible adult. We all have to make our walk of shame. We were lied to, and we told some lies. This is ‘the fight’ scene of the movie. Dammit it sucks being an adult, and understanding the world. It would be so much easier if a time machine existed.
The movie is somewhat sappy from this point, but I’m reminded of an old Siskel & Ebert review where the movie, despite its flaws, is so lovable you have believe in it. The characters are so relate-able. Their emotions seem real. The ending doesn’t matter. It’s simple, but that’s the magic here. *POOF* The crazy guy had it all figured out in the end.
I gave it 5 Netflix stars.