Safety Not Guaranteed: Aubrey Plaza in a Locally Shot Time-Travel Comedy

With deadpan impatience/intelligence, Aubrey Plaza (Parks and Recreation) plays Darius, an intern at Seattle magazine sent to the Olympic Peninsula to help write a snarky takedown of some poor schmuck who thinks he's invented a time machine. Only the sad, lonely Kenneth (Mark Duplass, now a regular visitor to Northwest indies) isn't quite so pitiful as he first seems. Working as a grocery-store clerk, driving a rusty old Datsun, and possibly paranoid about government agents monitoring him, Kenneth turns out to be a melancholy, time-obsessed, kindred soul to Darius. She's fixated on a family tragedy in her past, and Kenneth seems equally unhappy with the present. There's something way back that he wants to fix—unless that something lies in his own head. Directed by Colin Trevorrow, Safety has a sweet, larky spirit of adventure, as if the Hardy Boys had wandered into an episode of The X-Files. Darius and Kenneth heist equipment, are pursued by ominous feds, and go running through the rainforest for reasons not always important. They're a pair of escapists; meanwhile, Darius' boss (Jake Johnson) and fellow intern (Karan Soni) are also seeking a kind of Brigadoon by the beach. Time travel may be this comedy's hook, but the three discontented visitors find liberation by traveling away from the city and their old identities. As the more stuck and ridiculed Kenneth, Duplass brings just the the right tinge of pathos to his mad-scientist role. While Safety capers through the now with comic assurance, it's always weighted by memory and regret. And Plaza, a bright young thing of the moment, possesses a gravity beyond her years.

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