Safety Not Guaranteed
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Romance, comedy and the possibility of time travel, with a solid indie cred
Time travel has been a popular subject for science fiction almost since its inception. Not only is it speculative science, but also it is hard to put under too much scrutiny because it transcended theory into reality, but that doesn't stop people debating any flaws in it when it turns up in movies. Of all the sub-genres of sci-fi, it is one that is particularly popular with indie filmmakers because it doesn't require expensive special effects, although that does depend how far into the past or future the story goes. It also relies on clever screenwriting, something most of the major studios seem to be increasingly shying away from. One of the best examples of a low-budget indie has to be Primer, and more recently Looper (out on DVD on 28/1/13), although that was not exactly low budget. Other recent(ish) examples that used time travel as a conceit (and in their title) were Hot Tub Time Machine and FAQ About Time Travel, both of which were as much romantic comedies as they were sci-fi movies. Safety Not Guaranteed falls into that category.
An ad for a time travel companion attracts the attention of an arrogant magazine journalist, who takes along two hapless interns to help him investigate who placed the ad, and whether the person was crazy or serious. The characters are all a bit stereotypical: the slightly depressed single girl, the nerdy Indian guy, the aforementioned handsome journalist and the is he/isn't he crackpot inventor. Even the story is fairly predictable, filled with will they/won't they moments and an obvious finale. Although the film doesn't paint a positive image of nerds, the cast (Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass in particular) is so likeable (and familiar) that it makes the whole experience fun and enjoyable, without being challenging.
While the sci-fi is always bubbling away in the background it never dominates, leaving the romance and comedy at the fore, so as a date movie for the geek shy, safety is guaranteed.
Safety Not Guaranteed is in cinemas from December 26.