Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)

safety-not-guaranteed-poster1Starring Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni, Jenica Bergere, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Kristen Bell, Jeff Garlin, William Hall Jr.

Directed by Colin Trevorrow

Expectations: Moderately high.

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It would be easy to screw up a film based on something as flimsy as a classified ad, but Safety Not Guaranteed not only succeeds, it enchants. In 1997, an ad appeared in Backwoods Home Magazine that read as follows:

“Wanted: Somebody to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. P.O. Box … You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. Safety not guaranteed. I have only done this once before.”

Now you see why I had to see this film. Not only is that one of the greatest ads I’ve ever read, it’s such an incredible film premise. Unfortunately, the ad isn’t real (it was written by the magazine’s senior editor), but in the world of Safety Not Guaranteed the premise is taken seriously. Well… as serious as a movie with such an absurd premise can be. There’s lots of comedy throughout the film, too, but unlike a lot of “dramedies,” Safety Not Guaranteed is actually compelling on both levels.

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Quick Takes: The Baxter, Burlesque, The Secret in Their Eyes

This is a new feature I’m trying out. Let me know if you think it’s a good idea or not. At certain times I end up watching more movies than usual and I don’t have time to write reviews for them all. This always nags at me, as these movies are seen but not weighed in on via the site, so I thought I’d throw them together in one Quick Takes post and leave it at that. Your thoughts?


The Baxter (2005)

Starring Michael Showalter, Elizabeth Banks, Michelle Williams, Justin Theroux
Directed by Michael Showalter

Great acting and some funny writing make this take on the romantic comedy fun and heart-warming. Michelle Williams is especially fantastic here, as are Michael Showalter and Elizabeth Banks. I generally hate romantic comedies, but The Baxter won me over with its interesting premise, quality script and nice visuals.

Burlesque (2010)

Starring Christina Aguilera, Cher, Eric Dane, Cam Gigandet, Kristen Bell, Stanley Tucci
Directed by Steve Antin

Burlesque isn’t a very good movie. It’s highly formulaic, it’s overlong, it’s derivative of every other film in the genre. But damn if Burlesque isn’t entertaining! The acting is surprisingly very good, even from Christina Aguilera. Cher and Stanley Tucci play off each other perfectly, selling the story that they’ve been friends for decades. Visually very pleasing and the songs are enjoyable, Burlesque is a good evening off for your brain. AND get this… it’s the directorial début from Steve Antin, Troy from The Goonies!

The Secret in Their Eyes (2009)

Starring Ricardo Darín, Soledad Villamil, Pablo Rago, Javier Godino, Guillermo Francella
Directed by Juan José Campanella

This Academy Award winning film for Best Foreign Language film is a stunner. Slow-moving and methodical, it is more of a character study than the detective thriller it might seem to be from the back of the box. As a character study it is extremely competent, with every moment informed by the deep well of character motivations that each actor has to pull from. The last fifteen minutes are fantastic and take the old “Would this character do that?” writing argument to a masterful conclusion. Highly recommended, as long as you don’t mind a slow-burning film.

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