Peaceful Stoner’s review published on Letterboxd:
What would you go back for?
The film stays true to its tagline even though its title is a largely a detractor. I was expecting a sci-fi adventure and got a neat, cute little surprise. It is a very dangerous thing when a film does not deliver its titular promise because the viewer would then be doubly disappointed. One, of course, would be because the film was not what he or she thought it would be and two, the film was not good in what it tried to be eventually. But that is where I was bowled over by this film. I never expected to see a romantic comedy filled with adorable characters and how their lives and thoughts change with the underlying suspense of time travel crawling beneath them. And I never thought the change of tracks would win me over and give a sweet lingering taste to my eyes and mind. It did, it definitely did.
The humour in this was so easy and good natured that it gave me a sense of cheer and warmth. It contains a good mix of slapstick, situational, witty and sometimes absurdist comedy. It is never a laugh out loud type but the good vein of humour was made even more enjoyable by the colourful characters, cuddly and lovable performances which allured me and stayed in my mind. Aubrey Plaza pulls off the character of a disillusioned college girl with effortless ease and with such beguiling charm that I loved and cared for her within a space of minutes and truly wanted something good to happen to her. Mark Duplass might just take the place of the most cutesy, lovable cupcake away from Sam Rockwell in my books. He was so endearing and absolutely lovable. The seemingly nonsensical paranoia that he suffers from evoked endless heartfelt quips from me. Jake Johnson’s Jeff is a typical asshole but his antics and the stupid smirk on his face allayed him from just being an asshole, and become an affectionate and adorable asshole. His character totally disarmed me. I thought I was going to hate him right away but as the film progressed his character became more than what his exterior suggested he was. And then finally the Indian played by Karan Soni. As dull and as clichéd the character might be, he was the sweetest among the lot. He looked and fit the part of a nerdy Indian to the T. Everyone in this are perfectly cast. For a run time so short the film has very period to make the audience get invested emotionally to the characters. If done right, the casting does half the job of accomplishing that and the performances do the rest. Here both work and hence it became incredibly easy for me to connect and love these characters.
For the first ten to fifteen minutes I must admit I felt a bit itchy as to when they were going to get to the sci-fi part and show the actual time travel thing. But as time passed, I became more engaged in the characters and how they happen to view the concept of time-travel could affect their lives. Their motives also are not extravagant, but have an emotional basis and remain loyal to their actual character. I consider that as the major reason why the desire in me to watch them travel back time lessened and eventually I did not even care for whether or not they are going to show it. I wanted to only see how the wondrous concept unites the lives of two unsociable, lonesome but absolute darlings of individuals. The film cleverly, deftly changes its path and so efficiently makes us love the path it takes without ever persuading. That is where it wins.
Overall, Safety Not Guaranteed might not have the sci-fi edge it promised, but it certainly is ostensibly modest, has charming performances, a heartfelt story and an ending to be cherished. It provided me a warm and an enjoyable watch for a good Saturday evening, and in return I guaranteed it a sweet corner in my heart.