Monday, June 3, 2013

Movie Week – Safety Not Guaranteed

So, Sunday night’s movie was originally intended to be Contagion, but things conspired to prevent that viewing from happening.  Because I didn’t want to be up all night long, I opted for the shortest option available; Safety Not Guaranteed. 

I really don’t know what I was thinking. 

I mean other than “I’m really trying to watch a different movie every night this week.” 

And I guess I do know what I was thinking.  My basic thoughts were as follows; Aubrey Plaza makes me smile on Parks & Rec, Jake Johnson is decent in The New Girl and Mark Duplass is tolerable in The League.  Clearly with that gushing praise, Safety Not Guaranteed was destined for greatness. 

But the film didn’t do much for me. 

I’m sure Aubrey Plaza is an insanely gifted actress, but I’ve only ever seen her play variations of the same character.  And not so much “variations” as “the exact same character.”  I works for her and she’s successful at it, but I think I’m really over it. 

The same could be said of Jake Johnson.  He seemed like Nick’s cousin.  And not distant cousin, but like soap opera minted identical cousin.  He did get to play some tender notes, but for the most part it felt like I was watching a movie based on a Parks & Rec and The New Girl mash up fan fiction. 

I will give Mark Duplass some props though’ his character was the most compelling of the entire film.  Granted that was partially by design, but his performance was also very strong.  Out of the three leads, he seemed the least like his sitcom character.  

He actually felt like a fully realized character.  Perhaps it’s because there was some mystery about him.  Sure I wanted to know more about his time machine, but I also genuinely wanted to know if he was crazy.  And I wanted to know more about his prosthetic ear. 

I think one of my problems with the movie is that despite all of it’s indie dressing, it’s pretty traditional.  The romance is very paint by numbers and predictable.  Like, cringe-worthy predictable.  I was watching characters I was painfully familiar with, act out scenes I’d seen performed better.  The “tortured go-cart ride” scene felt extremely familiar and that’s because it was; Jesse Pinkman had an identical scene during Breaking Bad’s fourth season. 

So I went in expecting to see an indie film with a unique flavor and what I got was lukewarm leftovers from better experiences.  Except for Mark Duplass.  He did a great job.  

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