I am probably a bigger fan of Mark Duplass' writing than of his acting. He and his brother Jay penned Baghead", "Cyrus", and teh very recent "Jeff Who Lives at Home". His acting highlights include "Humpday". Do I need to go further?


"Safety Not Guaranteed" finds him opposite of Aubrey Plaza hwo hasn't exactly been on a tear with her greatest claim to fame being Adam Sandler's "Funny People" and "Scott Pilgrim vs The World". But every once in a while, in the hands of an astute director things can come together, even with questionable talent.


"Safety Not Guaranteed" is one of those films that comes together with a sharp script, good acting, even better casting, and sharp directing.

The story revolves around a young lady named Darius (Plaza) who works as an intern at a magazine. She wants to move up but is stifled by the fact that she is an intern and nothing good is ever handed to an intern.


That is until an personal want-ad is discovered that reads: Wanted: Someone to go back in time with me. This is not a joke. You'll get paid after we get back. Must bring your own weapons. I have only done this once before. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED"


This piques the curiosity of one of the magazine's slacker writers Jeff (Jake Johnson) who convinces the editor to allow him to investigate the ad... and the person behind the ad.


Jeff is allowed to take two interns to assist him, Darius and Arnau (Karan Soni). Neither is enthusiastic about the assignment, especially after Jeff tells them they will be sharing the same ruddy motel room so they can save their per diem for other things - like booze!

After arriving in the remote town where the ad is placed, it doesn't take Darius long to track down the person who paced the ad - which is a strange guy named Kenneth (Duplass).


After Jeff blows a chance to get to the bottom of the ad, because Kenneth doesn't trust him, Darius is thrown into the mix using her feminine wile - which was lacking. However, Kenneth and Darius hit it off and he tests her to see is she is the compatible traveling companion he is looking for. She certainly is odd enough.


His hesitation lies in his chronic paranoia. He thinks government people are after them - quasi Men in Black types. This paranoia naturally raises the likelihood that he is a crackpot. No one can actually travel back in time!


Suspicion is raised even more when he breaks into places to steal parts for his not-yet-seen time machine. All this paranoia makes for a well-timed repartee between the ensemble.


Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza and Jake Johnson bounce off each other well with other cast members tossed in to round out the nutcase stew. It's easy to understand why this film was nominated for the grand Jury award at Sundance Film Festival.


"Safety Not Guaranteed" is a nifty little indy that measures up to Wes Anderson's "Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" and "The Royal Tennenbaums" - definitely entertaining and definitely worth the price of admission.   -- GEOFF BURTON