Tag Archives: John C. Reilly

Recommended Viewing: Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed Movie Poster

I’ve been curious to see the film Safety Not Guaranteed, starring Aubrey Plaza of TV’s Parks & Recreation since I first read about the film’s premise months ago. With an engaging script by Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed tells the story of a group of Seattle-based journalists who set out to investigate and report on the story behind the person who placed a classified newspaper ad that reads:

“Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You’ll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. Safety not guaranteed.”

That’s supposedly a real ad placed in an unnamed newspaper back in 1997, but the rest of the story is fiction, and it’s just the perfect blend of quirky laughs, unexpected suspense and compelling, heartfelt characters to make this probably my favorite film of the year so far. I’m so glad I let my fondness for Aubrey Plaza and the universally glowing reviews for this film convince me to see it, despite the fact that the film co-stars actor/producer Mark Duplass — who has either starred in or had his name attached to four (4!) of the most unbelievably disappointing and just plain heinous indie films in the history of cinema (those films being The Puffy Chair, Bag Head, Hump Day and Cyrus). Seriously, the guy was maybe one film away from becoming the Indie Film version of Adam Sandler to me. Thank god that Duplass, who plays Kenneth, the charming, loner sci-fi geek seeking a time traveling companion, is terrific in this film! Maybe that’s because he didn’t write the script? Who knows; maybe he just finally hit his stride. I’ve always wanted to like him, but have you seen Cyrus? Even Marissa Tomei and John C. Reilly can’t save it from being complete torture to sit through!

Anyway, there are lots of fun surprises in the film, great chemistry between Duplass‘ and Plaza‘s characters and hilarious supporting performances by Jake Johnson and Karan Soni as Plaza’s boss and fellow magazine intern respectively. In two hours I grew to care about these characters and was so excited to see if there would be any actual time travel involved. I don’t want to write any spoilers in this post so if you like Aubrey Plaza and the plot sounds interesting to you, I’m guessing you’ll love this movie. Go see it while it’s still in theaters!

The Worley Gig Gives Safety Not Guaranteed Five out of Five Stars!

The Vampire’s Assistant: A Film That Truly Sucks

Vampires Assistant

About a hundred million billion years ago, I went to see a Halloween-themed movie called Trick or Treat, which was about a kid who brings a dead rock star back to life by playing one of his records backwards. The film had no “name” actors, minimal special effects and was a huge cheesefest, but compared to a new film I saw in preview last night, elaborately titled Cirque duFreak: The Vampire’s Assistant, it was the greatest piece of cinematic horror known to man.

Like much of the currently hyper-popular Vampire fare (Twilight, True Blood) The Vampire’s Assistant is based on existing material – in this case the popular teen-oriented Cirque duFreak series of novels by Darren Shan (which is also the name of the film’s lead character). I’m all for people getting in the vampire game as long as they’ve got something tasty to bring to an already crowded party. But the main problem with The Vampire’s Assistant – the plot of which revolves around the Vampire head of a traveling freak show, and a naive teenage boy who agrees to become that character’s “half-vampire” assistant in exchange for saving his best friend’s life – is that it can’t seem to figure out if it wants to be a lightweight “Disney Family Channel” comedy for kids, or a violent, bloodthirsty vampire epic for adults.

This inability to really sink its teeth into a firm identity culminates in a film that’s a perplexing cross between Dracula and Dawson’s Creek. John C. Reilly – who rarely makes a misstep – stars as the Vampire Mr. Crepsley, and the cast includes many recognizable names such as Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek, Orlando Jones, Patrick Fugit and Jane Krakowksi, who all do their best to work with a weak script and minimal to non-existent direction by Paul Weitz (American Pie). The three teen leads, however, are played by unknowns and I must say, with the exception of Josh Hutcherson, who played Darren’s best friend Steve, the talent pool is ridiculously shallow. Actor Chris Massoglia as Darren, in particular, has all of the onscreen charisma of one of my socks.

Although the audience laughed during quite a few scenes, it felt like the kind of forced or “canned” laughter you’d expect to hear plugged into a TV sitcom. The one line that extracted a serious belly laugh from me was where (Not a Spoiler) Hutcherson’s character Steve bends down over the coffin at Darren’s funeral and whispers, “I hate you so much for leaving me here with these idiots.” Too lame and directionless for adults and too scary/gory for kids, I’m not sure who the target audience is for The Vampire’s Assistant. But I sure will be curious to see if it sinks or swims at the box office opening weekend.

Cirque duFreak: The Vampire’s Assistant Opens Nationwide on Friday October 23rd