DVD Mini-Reviews: Safety Not Guaranteed, Magic Mike, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Sound of My Voice

In an effort to get caught up with some of this year’s films, I went on a small Redbox/Netflix binge (gotta love cheap rentals). Here are some quick reviews for four of them, all of which are worth seeing (for the most part):

Safety Not Guaranteed [2012]
Safety Not Guaranteed [2012]
This under-the-radar indie flick takes a fun and quirky premise and runs with it. A trio of magazine journalists are sent on a road trip to investigate a newspaper classified ad in which someone is looking for others to go back in time with him. It’s a charming, light-hearted affair, but the characters have a surprising amount of depth to them. Aubrey Plaza plays the same disillusioned employee as usual, but she has good chemistry with the always entertaining Mark Duplass (the writer of the ad). As the film progresses, we learn more about their pasts, and every character struggles to overcome their own personal obstacles. In a nutshell, this is a perfect rental, one that will likely leave you with a smile on your face. 8/10

Magic Mike [2012]
Magic Mike [2012]
It’s a shame that most people only know this as the “male stripper” movie and instantly form an opinion based on that. There’s more to Magic Mike than half-naked men dancing around, though I’m sure that will be a huge bonus for some. What we have here is director Steven Soderbergh’s most interesting film in years, one that also shows that there may be more to this Channing Tatum guy than initially thought. Tatum and Matthew McConaughey are highlights, but Alex Pettyfer also performs quite well as the new guy who the titular Mike takes under his wings. There isn’t a whole lot to the plot, but this is still an interesting character study on a profession we don’t see a lot of in film. One of this year’s biggest surprises. 8/10

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World [2012]
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World [2012]
I have always been curious how people would react if they knew the world were ending. In Seeking a Friend, many of the reactions are about as I would expect. There are people drinking and staying inebriated for days at a time, random sex parties, people using drugs for the hell of it, and of course, rioting and looting. But then there are people like Dodge (Steve Carell) and Penny (Keira Knightley), who are alone and seeking friendship, and do not start acting crazy due to the impending apocalypse. Their goals are simple: Dodge wants to reunite with his long-lost love, and Penny wants to visit her family overseas. Their adventure turns into a mostly fun road movie, but the problems kick in once the stereotypical Hollywood “romcom” conventions begin. The final act features cheesy dialogue and forced character behavior that damage what is otherwise a solid little flick. 6/10

Sound of My Voice [2012]
Sound of My Voice [2012]
Big thanks to Sam at Duke & the Movies for recommending this because otherwise I probably would have overlooked it. Cults have always fascinated me, and Sound of My Voice offers an intriguing look at one. When a young couple decides to investigate a local cult in order to make a documentary, they are transformed in ways they could not have imagined. Brit Marling, as the leader of the cult, is a revelation — seemingly effortlessly portraying a woman who is equally beautiful and powerful, while maintaining a mysterious allure that shows just how people believe her wild claims. The film is riveting throughout, and the cult itself is endlessly interesting, but I just wish the resolution was better. The ending tries to be ambiguous, but I felt it was rather cut-and-dry myself. Still, this is definitely an underrated film that is well worth seeing, especially if you have any interest in the subject matter. 7.5/10

Hope everyone had a happy Thanksgiving and a great holiday weekend! Have you seen any of these films? What did you think of them?

31 thoughts on “DVD Mini-Reviews: Safety Not Guaranteed, Magic Mike, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Sound of My Voice

  1. Fogs' Movie Reviews says:

    I’ve only seen “Safety” and “Magic Mike” but I’d agree with your take on both. Safety definitely IS “fun and quirky”… a cool, smaller film for people to seek out.

    “Magic Mike” was best when it was being comedic. I thought it was funny as hell. Once it got all “Serious” on us, not so much, but still very enjoyable on the whole!

    Nice take, Eric. πŸ˜‰

    • Eric says:

      Thanks dude. If you’re looking for new entries for your “Under the Radar” series, I highly recommend checking out Sound of My Voice. Would love to read your take on that one.

  2. Dan Heaton says:

    Eric, I’m right with you on Safety Not Guaranteed, which was a fun little film with a cool premise. I liked all the actors, especially Plaza and Duplass. I’m planning to see all the others and even have Sound of My Voice at home, but I haven’t checked them out yet. None of your reviews have discouraged me, though I’m a bit more hesitant from Seeking a Friend now.

  3. Daniel Nava says:

    Really liked Magic Mike and Sound of my Voice. Seeking a Friend.. worked better than I expected. I especially love the ending. Safety Not Guaranteed is among my least favorite films of the year though…

    • Eric says:

      Hi Daniel, thanks for stopping by! Yeah, Magic Mike and Sound of My Voice were total surprises for me. I wasn’t sure what to expect with either, but they were both really good. Bummer about Safety Not Guaranteed, though I can definitely see how its “quirk” could rub some people the wrong way.

  4. ruth says:

    I’m curious about ‘Safety Not Guaranteed,’ will give that a rent at some point. I’m not too fond of Magic Mike though, though it has some funny parts, overall it’s just not as compelling/poignant as it tries to be. I generally don’t like the cast so maybe that takes away from my um, enjoyment. Plus it doesn’t help that I feel like taking a shower afterwards, ahah. Oh well, at least I didn’t pay for me, my colleague lent me her dvd.

    • Eric says:

      Haha, yeah Magic Mike was a bit dirty, wasn’t it? I thought it was a pretty good blend of drama/comedy, and Tatum really surprised me in that one.

      Definitely check out Safety Not Guaranteed when you get a chance. I think you’ll dig it, Ruth.

    • Eric says:

      Hmm.. I could see that about the ending of Sound of My Voice, but I thought the film delivered the goods until that point. Brit Marling was captivating every time she was on screen.

  5. hellomimosa says:

    So glad you posted this! I just put Safety Not Guaranteed on my Netflix queue because I really like Jake Johnson and Mike Duplass. Jake is ridiculously funny in New Girl (I want more of him) and Mark is so witty in The League. It’s disappointing to hear that Aubrey Plaza is playing the same role as usual; I had such high hopes for her in that role.

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, Jake Johnson tends to get overlooked thanks to the two leads, but he’s quite good in this. His character is hard to like at first, but there is more depth to him than initially seen. πŸ™‚

  6. The Focused Filmographer says:

    Nice reviews here man. I love mini-reviews.

    Glad you liked Safety Not Guaranteed and Seeking a Friend. I did too. Safety was a good film that we liked at about the same level. You reviewed a couple here that I had forgotten about like “Sound of my Voice.” Thanks for writing up your thoughts on them.

  7. Alex Withrow says:

    Rewatched Magic Mike last weekend, and was reminded how much I love it. Matthew McConaughey just kills it. Anyway, I agree it’s a shame that most people just write that off as a male stripper movie. So much more there.

  8. Chris says:

    I had low expectations for Sound of My Voice, not thinking it could equal Martha Marcy May Marlene. Turned out it could, and to me is a pretty effective little indie movie.

    • Eric says:

      I wasn’t sure what to expect from Sound of My Voice. I was a little concerned because I heard so little about it beforehand, but it was a nice surprise. I would put it on the same level as Martha Marcy May Marlene as well — both were very good in different ways.

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