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Laramie Movie Scope:
Safety Not Guaranteed

A little independent gem

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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September 25, 2012 -- This is one of those movies that gives independent cinema a good reputation. It's one of those little gems that isn't seen in most of the country, but should be. It is a science fiction comedy with just enough of a budget for one big special effects scene. The rest is just a good old comedy about ordinary human foibles.

The plot is highly original. A magazine writer, Jeff (Jake Johnson of “21 Jump Street”) and two interns visit another city to interview a man, Kenneth (Mark Duplass of “Greenberg”) who has placed a classified advertisement seeking a time travel companion. The two interns, a clueless loner, Darius (Aubrey Plaza of “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and the reserved, geeky Arnau (Karan Soni) end up doing all the work while Jeff pursues an old flame, Liz (Jenica Bergere of “Yours, Mine and Ours”). Jeff teaches the interns a thing or two about how to manipulate a business expense account.

When Kenneth rejects Jeff as a time travel partner, Darius is recruited to ply her seldom-used feminine wiles to get Kenneth to open up about his time travel plans. Darius and Kenneth hit it off. Soon Darius is training for a time-travel adventure. It is obvious that Kenneth thinks time travel is real, and Darius begins to wonder if it is possible. Then Kenneth's story begins to fall apart when it is revealed his dead “girlfriend” is actually still alive. Kenneth's plan is to back in time and save her from a fatal accident. When Darius tells him the woman is alive, Kenneth is delighted, “the mission worked!” he says. Such are the paradoxes of time travel.

I was caught up in the attractive possibility of time travel and the romance of the story. You hope that Kenneth is not crazy and that Darius will finally find true love. A possible romance between Jeff and Liz is also in the works. Jeff even tries to cure Arnau's virginity with a late night party with some high school girls. What will happen when Kenneth finds out the truth about Darius? What is the truth in any of this? What about the mysterious men who are following Kenneth around? All of this is tied up in a neat ending. Nothing is quite what it seems.

Most of these actors are very effective in this film. The only one who looked remotely familiar to me was Aubrey Plaza. It is a fine ensemble cast. Most of the location shots look pretty ordinary and mundane. The one scene that looks like it came from a big movie is the special effects shot, which is spectacular when compared with the rest of the film, which is obviously low-budget. This is a very funny film with endearing characters. It rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2012 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)