Tuesday, July 3, 2012

SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED Discussion - He Said/She Said

Directed by: Colin Trevorrow
Written by: Derek Connolly 
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, and Mary Lynn Rajskub
Synopsis: Three magazine writers head out to write a story on a guy who put an ad in the newspaper looking for someone to time travel with him.

Just to give everyone a heads up, this ended up being more of a discussion about the movie than an actual review. The points that we discuss are very interesting and worth talking about so please, if you have seen the movie go ahead and give this a read. If you haven't had a chance to see the movie, see it first because it 's wonderful and definitely worth your time, but then come back and read this!

Jonesy: This movie feels like it's part of that new"trend" where the movie is fundamentally about relationships but it has a weird syfy side to it. The weird side to this film was time travel, and the other movie I am thinking of, EXTRATERRESTRIAL, was about the same themes of relationship but with an alien invasion. It's an interesting backdrop where you can explore relationships.

Javi: It's more of an allegorical look at relationships. Yeah, it's about time travel, but it's more about regret and being haunted by your past. What was your overall impression?

Jonesy: I liked it a lot. How about you?

Javi: I actually enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It hit on a lot of great emotional levels. A lot of the movie, until the end, felt very predictable. The end result was always going to be the same, but you didn't how it was going to get there. The little video at the end summed it up with the big message that we as humans don't want to be lonely and we want company. We need somebody. But to shift gears, let's talk about some of the characters.

Jonesy: Well, Aubrey Plaza (Darius) kind of just plays angsty "Aubrey Plaza" character.

Javi: She's always doing something better with her roles nowadays. Even in PARKS AND RECREATION, her role has more depth than just being angsty.

Jonesy: True, and even in this movie there were more reasons for her being the way that she is which I liked, and it showed through her performance. I don't watch PARKS AND REC, but this is the big movie I've seen her in where she's a lead. For example, where she's explaining her reason for wanting to time travel, her character becomes more realistic. Now, Jeff, his storyline was weird.

Javi: I feel that it complements the main storyline.

Jonesy: I think it's just kind of there, and then he just kind of turns around to be less of a dick?

Javi: Well, you see why he is the way he is nowadays. I initially felt that his storyline was this weird part that was detached from the main  movie, a but the more I think about it, the more I see it's important. As I mentioned before, when you get to the end and you realize a huge part of the move is the fact that people don't want to be alone. And you see how Jeff's character shows up that theme in his own story line in a very sad, not in the teary eyed sort of way, but just almost pathetic.

Jonesy: It could also be like Darius and Kenneth's (Duplass) story. It's funny how they have significant points of their life that they want time travel to and change in the past. But for Jeff he also wants to go back to a similar time in his life, and he doesn't want to necessarily change it but to relive it, and it ends up biting him in the ass. Maybe this is saying that we shouldn't try to go back and mess with the past because it'll end up biting you in the ass?

Javi: That's a weird tangent you landed on. But just to interject, I never believe that the movie gets into the morality of time travel. I think in a way it sort of is encouraging it. It shows how you can potentially make the world better. You see evidence to pointing that Kenneth is either lying or is completely telling the truth in the best of ways. I'm talking about the Kristen Bell cameo.

Jonesy: That's the main plot point where I don't know what to make of it. Was he telling the truth? did he save her? There at the end, he says "the mission changes, I'm going back for you (Darius)." Does that mean he's lying and he never saved his ex girlfriend?

Javi: Whoa, dude, I never thought about that. One of the things I can think of to counteract your point is that he said in the beginning that time was not linear and that it was like a rubber band or a big V happening all at the same time or that there's different time lines. You think that there's something screwy going on, don't you?

Jonesy: Well, the only reason I say that is because I bought the deal where Darius came back and confronted him, and he said that it works, and it means that he successfully changed the past. Then I just didn't really understand what his motivation was. Was he lying? Why would he lie to Darius when he was making a big deal about trust? Well if it's a lie, then why not just tell her?

Javi: I'm not really 100% sure.

Jonesy: That's one of those things ends up working out just fine. It makes him ambiguous, and you can make Kenneth whatever sort of character. Maybe she just realized that she needs someone that's just as crazy as her?

Javi: Then I wonder if he didn't mean a literal "I'm going back for you," but rather a more metaphorical "I'm going back for you." Where he is not going back to the past to do her mission, but rather to prove to her that he's not crazy? Like this is all worthwhile?

Jonesy: I could buy that then.

Javi: Holy shit we're debating a lot over one line.

Jonesy: But it does change the ending a bit. And I honestly wasn't event thinking about her "mission" by the time the movie ended. But I could see your point about him proving her trust in him. Did you think it was gonna work or did you think he was crazy?

Javi:  No.

Jonesy: You thought he was legit the whole time?

Javi: When we were questioning whether he was lying about the girlfriend, I still believe that he could time travel.

Jonesy:  Going back to Jeff's story, it still felt like I was watching a completely different movie.

Javi: Like I said before, I can see why you would think that, but by the time the movie ends, I think it's apparent that the Jeff portion of the story makes sense in the context of the movie. Because both of the main story lines show off the fact that we as humans don't want to be alone, you need someone to be your "time travel" partner. That's what Jeff was looking for. He basically spelled it out when he said to the ex girlfriend, "You're this mythical figure from a time where I want to go back to." And that's maybe something that they all yearn for, and all three of them have that longing for the past but also wanting to be with someone. Because I can assure you that Kenneth probably doesn't have a lot of girl friends to talk about. Whereas Jeff comes off pretty sad when he says, "I have an Escalade, and I have a nice condo." And when Liz (the ex) asks, "No, really tell me about your life." Well, that IS his life. That's why he sought her out, why he went out there, and why he's such a dick.

Jonesy: It is quite sad that he tried and got shattered for trying. And especially Jeff, you can tell he's not one for long lasting relationships. Initially he just wanted a fling....

Javi: I don't think he ever wanted a fling. That's just him being full of it. I think he was always just trying to rekindle something.

Jonesy: But he left the salon when he saw her at first. It was only until Darius and the other intern called him out on his shit that he went back.

Javi: At least the way the whole situation played out in my head was that even though he was commenting on how fat and ugly she was, how much do you want to bet that he was thinking that he was terrified because it was actually happening and he was afraid. If anything, the movie teaches you that people that are lonely and crazy hide their emotions very well. Or at least try to. So I think that we can both agree that the story has a lot of things that can be debated and has a lot of layers. I'm not going to lie, every time that I hear the name "Duplass" in anything, I'm 100% wary. I'm sorry, I don't like the constant zooming in or that weird style where there's a voice over while people are doing other things. And then I was very pleased when I saw that's not what it was.

Jonesy: At least he didn't direct it. I was pretty amazed that Mark Duplass could act.

Javi: Yeah, but they always star in their own movies. But at to the film, I thought the story had a 20 minute portion where it was dragging, but apart from that, the rest of the plot is being carried by the actions of the characters.

Jonesy: I agree. Also this is how you do a deep movie right where the ambiguity is enough to keep you guessing, but it's not so sloppily written that it pisses you off. I don't feel that there were any glaring holes.

Javi: Well, we still need to talk about the black goo...

Jonesy: There's enough ambiguity about the girlfriend situation and other things where both sides of the story could potentially be right. There's no big holes that you're trying to make up for. I like this movie. It makes you think. It doesn't go into the mechanics of time travel.

Javi: If anything, it disturbingly implies that time travel to mess with the past is justified.  The reason I say that is because if Kenneth is telling the truth and the girlfriend is alive because he already time travelled, then time travel is good because you save a loved one even though they will never remember you, you still did a good thing. And that to me goes to a strange path, and I'm not sure if the movie intended to go there. You're right though where time travel is just a means to an end. I wonder if LOOPER will be the same.

Jonesy: I hope so.

Javi: Well, I think that Rian Johnson is a smart enough director that he'll make time travel not the central focus of the movie.

Jonesy: Once you start getting into the mechanics of time travel and how it can affect the future and then you start writing lot holes. And then you're asking for nerds to pick it apart. You're asking them to find the plot holes, and say your movie sucks because you didn't connect all of the dots between two obscure points.

Javi: Wow. Tell me how you really feel. Seems you got some pent up aggression.

Jonesy: I think my problem with a lot of the movies that involve heavy time travel is that you accept the facts in the moment, but then you start to discuss it afterwards and you sound ignorant. I've seen PRIMER, and I understood it when I watch it, but when you really get into the mechanics of their time travel, and there's 15 of them at the same time, you can't keep your thoughts together. I just don't get how people write and decipher those types of movies.  If anything SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is smart for saying "Whatever, we're not explaining the mechanics of anything." Weren't the guys from PRIMER working on LOOPER?

Javi: Yeah, director Shane Caruth is consulting in the time travel aspects of it. Speaking of PRIMER, why isn't he making more movies?

Jonesy: I bet he's time traveling.

Javi: He's busy creating the emotes of the future. Oh man, I'm totally going to write a movie Shane Caruth: Time Lord. This is definitely one of those movies where this movie feels very subtle. And nowadays with a lot of indie movies you don't get that. This was a damn fine movie.

1 comment:

  1. Did he save her? I thought he did. My take on this is that in order to save her, he had to change the past when he tine traveled and thats why she doesnt remember that they dated. The key part in the movie that leads me to this conclusion is that the add he publishes said: I have only done this once.

    So...initially, his motivation for going a second time was so that the ex girlfriend could be alive and remember him? But now things changed.

    It was a great movie.