Safety Not Guaranteed
Time Out says
You can already tell that it’s going to take an observant director to pull out the best in sarcastic Aubrey Plaza (of TV’s Parks and Recreation), a rising star who might get Kristen Wiiged for a while in unworthy films. Too easily, she fits this indie effort’s mold of a Seattle alt-journo intern, emitting a steady seethe over her banal tasks. But when Plaza widens her enormous eyes at a potential career break—a stranger takes out a classified ad looking for a fellow time traveler—there’s both her character’s mocking sense of faux conspiracy (“There’s no sense in nonsense, especially when the heat’s hot,” she tells the kook somberly) and, impossible to miss, a young woman falling in love with a kindred spirit.
The target of her affections, loner Kenneth, is played by director-actor Mark Duplass, blooming into a rangy alternative to Hollywood’s sweaty manchildren. Here, he looks like Aaron Eckhart gone to seed while building a secret device in his garage. Safety Not Guaranteed doesn’t quite know what kind of comedy it wants to be; the humor works best in its first hour, when the news-of-the-weird plot takes on a suggestive dimension of romantic desperation. (Plaza’s boss, the paper’s glib writer on the story, goes AWOL on a quest of his own, one that’s mysteriously abandoned.) Alas, a sophisticated trajectory is cut short for an outcome that’s cringingly earnest. Who’d want to go back in time when a whole future is right there in his arms?
Follow Joshua Rothkopf on Twitter: @joshrothkopf