It's a pleasure to see the talented Aubrey Plaza being given a long overdue starring role, but what a shame Safety Not Guaranteed is such a dud. She plays a newspaper intern sent to investigate a self-professed time traveller (Mark Duplass), who claims to have built a time machine in his garage and is now seeking an assistant for his journey. Drawing inspiration from a real-life classified ad, Colin Trevorrow has a neat premise for his debut feature but he doesn't have a clue what to do with it.
Subplots involving Plaza's grating colleagues (Jake M. Johnson and Karan Soni) add nothing of value to the picture, and only serve to highlight how underdeveloped the whole thing feels. Safety Not Guaranteed is all half-baked ideas and frustrating loose ends, and it feels like a real missed opportunity. With another rewrite and some more focused direction, Trevorrow could have exploited the potential in his story and provided a worthy platform for Plaza, whose deadpan lead performance is excellent. [Philip Concannon]