Last week’s movie night was a bit sad, because it was the last presentation for long-time attendee Caitlin Kiley, who claimed over five years ago to “not know any good movies” and then went on to present six films before earning that PhD and a ticket out of town. But we weren’t going to let her get away without that final presentation, and for that she brought us (on a quick count) at least our fifth time-travel movie.
Before the film, Caitlin found a time-travel short to get us primed. It’s called Time Trap, and it’s available on YouTube!
Here, a future spaceman with a broken down ship uses time bubbles to intrude into contemporary Earth to find himself an unusual part to repair his ship.
Caitlin’s feature presentation was a fairly obscure 2012 film called Safety Not Guaranteed, directed by Colin Trevorrow, who somehow parlayed this film and basically nothing else into the directorial spot on this year’s blockbuster of blockbusters, Jurassic World. I’m not sure how he did that. And I know I said that it was a time-travel film, but it’s more like a “kinda-time-travel” film.
It basically starts with the ad above, placed by a weirdo in a coastal town a few hours outside of Seattle. A Seattle-based magazine, desperate for stories sends a writer and two interns to get a piece out of this kook.
It turns out that the writer is a bit more interested in hooking up with an old flame from high school (he eventually does)…and he’s pretty incompetent at the whole “befriending the time-travel kook” thing anyway, so the job basically falls onto his female intern Darius. (I can only guess her parents really hated Greeks?)
But before we get to that, look! There in the backseat! It’s the star of one of my favorite commercials ever!
So Darius goes and infiltrates the one-man operation that is Kenneth’s Time Machine and Soup Stocking Service. He accepts her and starts her in on a rigorous training plan to ensure her fitness for the danger she is sure to find in the past. And, of course, she starts to get sucked into his fantasy of having a time machine, particularly the paranoid bit about having government agents following him when it turns out that he actually does have government agents following him.
The goal of their mission remains a bit obscure, though. He says he wants to go back in order to save a former girlfriend who was killed when a car crashed through her living room. She wants to go back to save her mother, whose untimely death on a grocery run specifically for her has Darius feeling kind of responsible. How they plan to do both on the same mission I’m not sure.
The whole thing begins to come spiraling down, however, when the home office in Seattle decides to actually act like journalists and look up this dead girlfriend of Kenneth’s. It turns out she’s alive, and Darius goes to interview her, learning that a) Kenneth was never her boyfriend, just this socially awkward guy she was nice to, and b) it was Kenneth, jealous of her actual boyfriend, who drove the car into her living room.
Naturally, Darius begins to unbelieve Kenneth’s whole story, though confronted with these revelations Kenneth insists that his first time travel effort must have worked after all (what, he never checked?) Then the whole thing ends the only way it possibly can – with the drama, drama, FBI chase causing a doubting Darius to follow Kenneth to his fan boat time machine (much lamer than a DeLorean) and the movie ends with them slipping through a time bubble into the past. (Or perhaps, simply being annihilated into the void, as we don’t actually see them come out anywhere.) The end.
It’s a pleasant enough movie, though I came to realize that it’s basically the exact same movie (barring the specifics) as another Cinema 1544 film – King of California. Loner girl humors crazy man on lunatic quest only to begin to believe in the quest, then doubt it, then to have the quest be real in the end. King of California did it better, but it’s not like this one isn’t worth watching. Besides, you get cameos from Chloe from 24 and Veronica Mars and you get to watch the “Did it hurt?” guy be that same shy awkward dude for an hour and a half!