Monday, January 13, 2014

Everything cool is gone.

As logistically impossible as it is, I've always been fascinated with the concept of time travel. If given the chance to go back in time, I've got the year and month figured out - January 1999. Almost fifteen years ago to the day, one of my best friends died in a very tragic, yet very preventable way. At the time, and perhaps here, a decade and a half later, it's been the hardest thing I've ever had to deal with. He was a great person, and an even better friend. If I could, I'd go back and fix that. Without question.

In the 2012 flick Safety Not Guaranteed, a guy puts an ad in the local paper requesting a partner to travel back in time with. Initially, a desperate reporter and his under-appreciated interns seek this supposed town wackjob out, to ultimately make fun of his endeavor. But eventually, surprising no one, the whole trip turns into something much, much different for everyone involved. Even me.

While not overly funny, sincere or dramatic, Safety Not Guaranteed still completely charmed me. Most of that falls on lead actor Mark Duplass and his portrayal of the time-traveling goodball, Kenneth. Duplass plays the budding Marty McFly with a level of innocence and likability that for whatever reason really resonated with me. Sure, Kenneth is essentially an (infinitely) less-douchey Dwight from The Office (rather steadfast in his personal lunacy), but despite being an overwhelming outsider he's very protective and caring. And as he gets closer to Rebecca Hall's Aubrey Plaza's Darius, he appears borderline desirable. A real catch, even. Pretty surprising, considering the fact that Kenneth is utterly batshit crazy. Um, I think.

What I really enjoyed more than anything, were the ancillary time travel stories taking place. Not to say that the core of the plot was weak, it wasn't, but the minor plots were grounded in a much more tangible reality. Douchey Reporter Guy (Jake Johson), initially a one-note prick, goes on his own journey attempting to reconnect with an old high school flame. There's also the marginally creepy Indian Intern Guy (Karan Soni), chiefly concerned only with his laptop (and little else). This kid, with the help of the sketchy duo of Reporter Guy and Hot Chick, is forced to time travel back to his current youth, if that makes any sense. Both stories, in very little screen time, support the fantastic elements of Kenneth's quest so well, they made the whole film fit together nicely. For a minute anyway, I didn't even see it coming.

Is there a better example of instantaneous time travel than hooking up with someone you dated in high school? Probably not. And how many of us get caught up in the future, rather than living in the moment? My guess? Too many.

Anyway, here are the Yays and Boos. They just cashed in their 401k's and created Facebook pages. Uh-oh. This can't be good.

My Dad had one. Actually, I think every Dad had one. The Denim Jacket.

  • Aubrey Plaza. Even if she always looks like she just found out she has to work today, I really like her in this flick.
  • Liz. Whoa. For an old high school chick, this lady is pretty rad. I mean boobs + massages is enough, but boobs + massages + fresh baked pies? This equals dream woman.
  • Kenneth's clothes. Oh, man. This guy wears so much denim, it's great. Not only do you have to love it, you kind of have to respect it.
  • Speaking of my man, Ken, let me tell you, this dude can rock the cither. When he finally started crooning, I knew Darius didn't have a chance. Likely because I was in love with him, too.
  • Jeff's redemption (Jeff = Reporter Guy). As much as I kind of hated this guy, I really dug him by the end. The pedophile glasses line was pretty harsh, but still. He was right.
  • Kristen Bell. Yeah, I almost forgot, Sarah Marshall is in this.
  • And finally, as I sort of mentioned above, I simply love the theme of this movie. Each of us has this time and place we love more than anything. Often that's here and now, but we'll never see that if we continue holding on to a past full of regret. We can't change the past...right?
This is probably the worst stakeout ever.
  • Hair in the toilet. Let me clarify, long and attached hair in the toilet. Gross.
  • Jeff, the reporter, is pretty uninterested the whole time. Sure, he's there for other reasons, but he doesn't even give a damn about Kenneth.
  • Oh, and Kenneth, even though I love him? Dude's a pretty odd duck, to say the least. 
  • Independent quirk. I know it has to happen in these movies, but the cutesy bullshit was a bit much at times. I'm looking at you kung-fu training. You too, target practice hijinks.
  • The ear thing. What. Was. That.
  • The ending. I simply don't know what to make of it.
  • And finally, their reasons. Kenneth's reason is, ish. But Dorian's? What the shit? Chocolate milk? Was I missing something? (and was I the only one that thought somehow these two incidents in 2001 were going to be related??)

So, all while I watching this movie, I was thinking of the exact moment I would travel back to. Obviously, I settled on trying to save my friend, but before that, both instances dealt with some lovely ladies in high school and college that I totally blew it with. They were each so hot. Like, damn. That's pretty pathetic, huh?

Hold on. My friend knew these chicks. And he knew me. Meaning...

...he wouldn't be surprised at all.
I told you, he was a good guy.


  1. I fairly enjoyed this but the final reveal kinda blew it for me. It didn't match the expectations and build-up.

    If you plan to put up an ad for going back to January 1999.... count me in. I'll be a good companion.... after all I do come from the future ;)

    1. Yeah, I think I'm with you, asrap. The final reveal...wasn't exactly what I wanted. It wasn't terrible, it just felt underwhelming a bit. The idea is good, the execution not as much....maybe?

      Ha! Yes, If I find a way to get back to January 1999, I'll make sure to pick you up on the way. I'll set the flux capacitor to one month ahead.

  2. I actually liked the ending, I wasn't expecting them to actually go in that direction. Great review! I enjoyed this flick.

    1. Like I said above, the more I think about it, the more I can appreciate it. It just left me feeling slightly hollow or cheated in some way. But regardless, it's a charming movie.

  3. I haven't seen this one in spite of endless recommendations. I really like Aubrey Plaza, though so I think I'll give this a shot one day.

  4. I say go for it. I'd love to read your review.

    Is there anyone on Parks you don't love!?

    1. Hmm.....not really :) I even warmed up to Aziz Ansari after Franco Roast :)

  5. I bought my husband this movie for his birthday -- over a year ago -- and we still haven't watched it. Crazy. I am sorry about the loss of your friend in 1999. I have an ongoing fantasy about going back 10+ years and preventing my mother's nasty and untimely death, even though there's no solid evidence I'd be able to prevent it. Of course I'd have to manage it without preventing the conception of my daughter Trisha. Or ... y'know ... stepping on a butterfly and causing the apocalypse or something. Life is very complicated.

    1. Until this blog, I had the incredibly nasty habit of buying movies and essentially never watching them. It's bad enough when you've already seen the movie...but even worse when you haven't. There's no urgency, for whatever reason.

      I'm sorry about the loss of your mom. My friend's death was just so stupid and unfortunate, I'm almost possible it could've been prevented with a mere tap on the shoulder or a simple two word conversation. Losing someone is horrible regardless, but sometimes the circumstances make it even worse...

      But yeah, you head back in time...and who knows what does or doesn't happen as a result.

      Watch out for those damn butterflies. Definitely. Unless, you're staring at a creepy witch who is holding a baby while hovering over the edge of a cliff. Then, and only then. stomp away.