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Friday, 31 January 2014 03:17

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     We truly have reached an interesting time when mildly popular internet memes are enough to inspire entire films. The ad depicted on the poster actually did run in Backwoods Home Magazine back in 1997 (Spoilers: It was a gag written by a staff member) and many years later was rediscovered as one of those mildly interesting bits of weirdness that floats around online imageboards. The suggestion of supernatural adventures lurking just outside the periphery of normal life was just mildly interesting enough to inspire writer/producer Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow to create this movie, about a crew of journalists who track down the ad's mysterious author and try to determine whether he's completely mad, or a genuine mad scientist.

 

 

Life of the Party (Positives):
     This movie was specifically created as a vehicle for lead actress Aubrey Plaza, who is famous for the Parks and Recreation TV series and widely beloved for her somehow endearing image of quirkily acerbic disillusionment - she's sortof like Jennifer Lawrence if she'd had all the color drained out of her by Murky and Lurky.

 Awesome, only a month into 2014 and I can already scratch "Rainbow Brite" off of

my obscure reference bingo card!

 

     Ms. Plaza is very charmingly Daria-esque as the similarly-named Darius, who doesn't seem to like most things in general, but has her own motivations to want Kenneth, the aspiring time-traveler, to be telling the truth, even while her coworkers tease her for forging a friendship with an obvious crackpot. The movie isn't just about Darius, however, as each character in the ensemble is well-developed, naturally portrayed, and goes through a clear arc over time. Also interesting, and appropriate for a movie about time-travel. is that every character is in some way living in a time other than the present, either by fixating on the future, wishing to undo past mistakes, or trying to recapture a time in his life that's passed by. Even aside from the sci-fi elements and conspiracy theories, Safety Not Guaranteed is an excellent, heartfelt character study that uses time travel as a theme as well as a plot device - it's not quite as elegent as Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or a Wes Anderson movie, but it's reminiscent of them.


     That said, this movie is still a pretty cool and creative mystery about investigating a man who may or may not actually have a time machine. Though it's far more of a lighthearted comedy than Lunopolis, it has similar moments of tension and confusion, partially because neither the characters nor the audience are ever completely sure if Kenneth is completely delusional and potentially dangerous, or if he actually is on the verge of a physics-defying discovery, and therefore actually being hunted by government agents, and therefore potentially dangerous. The truth is not revealed until the very end of the movie, and I won't spoil it, but the story is put together so well that either conclusion would have been perfectly plausible and perfectly satisfying, which is an achievement in screenwriting. It also contains a few neat ideas about causality and parellel universes, which make the time travel-loving nerd in me happy.

He MUST be a time traveler. I mean, what kind of dork would wear a denim jacket post-2000?

 

Potential Hangovers (Negatives):
     I have trouble thinking of any major weaknesses with this film, as it was an entirely pleasant experience for me, though it's admittedly not a crazy drinking film. There are occasional scenes where the cinematography goes all shakey-cam, which I know some people find annoying, but this is usually to emphasize the tension and frenetic energy of a dramatic scene or conversation, so it seems appropriate. There were a few plot points that cropped up and then were just never mentioned again, and the ending is a bit abrupt, as I would have liked to see more of how the experience affected each of the characters. Then again, the ending also helps to preserve the mystery that pervades the story, so I guess it's alright.


The Atmosphere (Date Night, Solo Viewing):
     This movie is atmospheric, funny, intriguing, and very romantic, making it excellent for viewing on a quiet night either alone or with a companion. There's something about it that not only fills the mind with excitingly twisty time-travel concepts, but also just promotes a general sense of well-being in the viewer. I guess uplifting is the right word for it. Safety Not Guaranteed is an uplifting experience, and definitely deserves to be toasted with just a drink or two so you can pay close enough attention.


+ Aubrey Plaza is really charming, I can see why the internet likes her so much
+ Subtle character development throughout an intriguing investigation
+ Exudes an upbeat, positive mood punctuated by a few deliciously tense moments
- Some elements of the story get dropped abruptly

Read 688 times Last modified on Friday, 31 January 2014 03:41

About Us

Tanked Matinee is the place to go for good drinking movies. What do we mean by that? Simply speaking, we evaluate and recommend entertainment media based on how much fun it is to watch with friends on the sofa and a cold beer in hand.

Everyone knows "The Godfather" is a great movie, but is it as great to drink with as "Roadhouse?" We can appreciate "Citizen Kane" as a masterpiece of cinema, but is it as good a centerpiece for your party as "Santa Clause Conquers the Martians?"

Tanked Matinee appreciates film as art, but when you're kicking back on Friday night with a tall Rum & Coke, you're not looking for art, man, you want to be entertained. We're here to recommend the best movies for your night in, whether it's a big party, small get-together, or just a quiet night alone with a bottle of wine or three.

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