Monday, November 5, 2012

The Cinema File #16: "Safety Not Guaranteed" Review

I think I've got hipster jizz on me. By the way, I just watched Safety Not Guaranteed.

I didn't hate this movie. I really didn't. It's nice, pleasant, and generally inoffensive. Of the two indie movies I've seen this week (not counting the straight to DVD fair, but the theatrical movies that fit the same ironically detached thematic standard), this was definitely the better one. That being said, the other one was Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World, which nearly rivaled The Watch in terms of its complete lack of incentive to engage with it. Safety Not Guaranteed is less predictable, and its characters, at least some of them, more relatable. There's just something so hollow about the whole thing.

The story follows an intern at a magazine going undercover to investigate a man she initially believes to be a crackpot who claims to be seeking a partner to go back in time with him. The two leads are somewhat endearing as they become kindred spirits in their weirdness, but as soon as their entanglement becomes romantic, which seems like the clear path the movie is taking from the beginning, I instantly lose interest. It's not nearly as bad as Carell and Knightly's predictably doomed love affair, but with all the time spent on their quirky platonic working relationship, it seems almost unnecessary and even a little bit forced. It feels like the kind of thing a deeper, more thoughtful movie would have left out or at least done with more subtlety. That alone did not ruin the movie, but it made it just a little bit harder to take.

The story follows the two main characters as they get closer to each other, but all too often diverts to the story of her boss and her fellow intern doing some shit I really can't bring myself to care about. That's problem one for me, the movie keeps insisting that I should be relating to this douche bag and this other guy who has maybe ten lines and no personality. Too much time is devoted to their side story when it adds literally nothing to anything, and it seems to be trying to engage me emotionally without earning it. Why should I like this guy or worry about whether he's gonna get the girl? Because she's his lost love? No, she gave him a blowjob once when they were teenagers and he friended her on facebook, then initially decided against seeing her because he thought she was a little too fat. Truly a romance for the ages. And the other guy, he's a virgin and his boss wants him to get laid. I think Alexander Dumas said it best when he...oh fuck it. And if you're gonna go on these tangents, at least give me a little resolution. Some stuff happens to them, the much more interesting main story takes over, and that's it. The End.

And the movie just takes way too long to get to its point. It's a simple story that is bogged down with so much superfluous crap. The main story is fine, such as it is, but it didn't need to go on this long. It felt padded, honestly, and when I notice something like that, it's saying something, because ordinarily I tend to be sort of forgiving about that sort of thing. You could have easily cut a half hour out of this movie and not only done so without the story suffering, but done so in a way that would have made it flow so much better. My fellow Dirty Sons Of Pitches raved about this movie, constantly fist pumping throughout, but with the possible exception of the ending, where one might be tempted to fist pump if a character in the movie wasn't doing so already, my hands stayed firmly relaxed. The ending is relatively strong, but the journey is really muddled and I'm not quite sure it was worth it.

In the end, I wonder if I just hate the generation that this movie was designed to appeal to. I think the end of hipsters has given way to a new subset of proto-hipsters that hate themselves and thus deny who and what they are, and this movie, with all its quirky immature characters struggling to make it as adults without losing the bullshit sense of entitlement and meta awareness that defined them in their teens, is a perfect fit. Being just on the cusp of this, I struggle with it myself, and I think what small measure of satisfaction I took from this movie comes from that part of me, but its a part that I strive to overcome everyday by not being a douche when I can help it. I can easily see Zooey Deschanel goofball her way through this movie. Maybe I just don't think these people should ever win in the end. I don't want assholes to find love and happiness. I want them to get punched in the face by the guys who deserve to find love and happiness. The time traveler that heads up this movie easily falls into the latter category, but the rest of them, not so much.

Safety Not Guaranteed is not a terrible way to spend your night. There is enough charm involved that I don't think you will ultimately come away regretting giving it your time. But if you're over thirty five or a curmudgeon such as myself, don't expect it to inspire all that much. Then again, if you're my age but lack my crotchity-ness, strap on your ironic T-shirt, style your comically anachronistic facial hair just right, put away the Ipod full of Vampire Weekend or whatever unlistenable shit you have on there, and go to town. Fall in love like you did the first time you watched Eternal Sunshine or Scott Pilgrim.

You degenerate fuck.

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