For a film about time travel, Safety Not Guaranteed isn’t really about time travel. Based on a real-life classified ad, it follows a Seattle journalist (Jake Johnson) and his two interns (Audrey Plaza, Karan Soni) as they investigate a supermarket clerk (Mark Duplass) who may – or may not – have invented time travel. A quirky, low-fi indie rom-com, it has the same sort of sweet, oddball sadness which permeated Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, while filmmaker Colin Trevorrow wisely keeps us guessing right until the end as to whether Duplass’ slacker-stacker is crazy or genuine.
As likeable as it is, though, Trevorrow’s debut isn’t particularly memorable or remarkable. Sure, the indie crowd will probably lap it up, but the various ingredients (Star Wars references, comedy training montages, mumblecore favourite Mark Duplass), don’t really add up to much. In her first lead, Aubrey Plaza proves that she’s a talent to watch, even if she’s essentially tasked with playing a slight variation on the perpetually unimpressed intern we see from her on Parks And Recreation. Elsewhere, New Girl‘s Jake Johnson is fine as the journalist reflecting on his younger days, although he’s not nearly past-it enough to be moaning about being past-it.