New on home video: ‘Safety Not Guaranteed,’ ‘Ruby Sparks’

By Rob Lowman
Los Angeles Daily News

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Tom Weston-Jones as Detective Kevin Corcoran in a scene from "Copper." Set in 1864 New York City, "Copper" centers on Kevin Corcoran, an Irish-immigrant cop who has returned from the war to find his world turned upside down. His daughter has been murdered and his wife has vanished. Corcoran sets about to find his daughter's killer and his missing wife while policing this notoriously lawless patch of town. (AP Photo/BBC America, George Kraychyk)

Safety Not Guaranteed is an inventive little indie comedy that shows sometimes a little concept can go a long way.

Aubrey Plaza, proving she’s someone to watch, plays a young journalist named Darius working at a Seattle magazine. There, the editors have come across a small anonymous personal ad from someone looking for a time-traveling companion. “Must bring your own weapons,” the ad says. “Safety not guaranteed.” The address is a post-office box in a small town in Washington state. (The movie was inspired by a real ad in the ’90s).

Darius’ boss, Jeff (New Girl’s Jake Johnson), desperate for a story, decides to track down the supposed time traveler, bringing along Darius and intern Arnau (Karan Soni). Jeff, who is having his own problems, has other motives for the trip and hopes to track down an old flame. Darius and Arnau are sent to stake out the post office, where they spot Kenneth (Mark Duplass), owner of the post-office box. Kenneth, as it turns out, wants to return to 2001 to rescue a girlfriend who died.

Safety Not Guaranteed is delightfully offbeat and amusing, and surprisingly touching.

Indie success

Ruby Sparks is another enjoyable indie film. Paul Dano plays Calvin Weir-Fields, a self-absorbed Los Angeles writer who had a best-seller and literary success at 19 but a decade later is still looking for a follow-up. One day while walking his dog he meets a young woman named Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the script).

Is she a figment of his imagination? He thinks so until one day he wakes up to find her making breakfast in his house, and everything he’s written about her so far is true. He’s convinced he’s hallucinating until his brother (Chris Messina) meets her and confirms she’s real. He realizes then that he can flesh her out, so to speak.

Nicely directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the team behind Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks is an amusing premise that Kazan cleverly plays out to a satisfying conclusion while turning in a sharp performance.

Arresting series

BBC America’s Copper, which has been renewed for a second season, proved to be fairly interesting during its first season.

It stars Tom Weston-Jones as Irish immigrant Kevin “Corky” Corcoran, a Civil War veteran who has become a New York City policeman in 1864, the year after the city’s deadly draft riots. It’s set around the notorious Five Points slum, though the action moves to other parts of the city including uptown seats of power such as Park Avenue, as well as into a rural neighborhood that was settled by freed blacks.

Corcoran, a former boxer, has returned from the conflict to find that his daughter is dead and his wife is missing. That mystery propels him as he metes out justice as a lawman, sometimes becoming judge, jury and executioner.

Despite taking some weird turns early on, by the end of the season Copper, which has solid production values in replicating the era, developed into an intriguing enough story to warrant a second year.

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