Safety Not Guaranteed is an excellent movie, sharp and funny and wrestling with stuff beyond just a goofy meme. It was a really pleasant surprise, made more surprising since I hadn’t seen any previews for it or heard much about it beyond some mild Sundance buzz.
One note, however: Jake Johnson is funny and cute, and a good comic presence if not much of an actor (honest question: what comedians right now are actually good actors?). In the still above, he’s making that Nick Miller-on-The New Girl smelled something bad face and if he keeps doing that, it’s gonna freeze. Mark Duplass, on the other hand, let it be known: he’s super hot. I’ve interviewed him, I’ve been impressed by how hot and charming and smart he is and it all comes out in schlub on screen, er, mostly in films I have little to no desire to see.
The other thing that was amusing was that in a lot of ways, Safety Not Guaranteed was like the really good version of Another Earth, the horrible sci-fi romance from last year. Despite the fact that Brit Marling is basically a star who looks like an ethereal Princess Buttercup and gives great interview (unlike Aubrey Plaza), Another Earth just took an interesting premise and patched it onto an inert story about grief, and it was padded-out-to-be-a-feature-length with gratuitous shots of Brit Marling walking and closeups of Brit Marling’s face.
But both Safety Not Guaranteed and Another Earth took young women wrestling with some sort of sadness, stuck them in the lives of these shabby, crazy men hiding out from the world, and they find a sort of romance blossoming with the question of time travel and regrets framing everything or the idea of another earth in space with another you. It’s an okay formula, very good for making a cheap film and aiming it at festivals, but Safety Not Guaranteed was really impeccably written in all aspects, and that made it a great movie, not just another piece of wonky indie stuff that serves as a calling card.