4. Safety Not Guaranteed

Director: Colin Trevorrow
Stars: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake M. Johnson, Karan Soni, Mary Lynn, Rajskub, Jenica Bergere, Jeff Garlin, Kristen Bell

Safety Not Guaranteed is a testament to the fact that, when you’ve got a fine cast and a smart screenwriter, the most overdone of concepts can work like gangbusters. The subject of time travel isn’t revolutionary, nor is the Amblin-esque theme of “dream big,” but first-time director Colin Trevorrow’s quirky and heartfelt comedy breezes through its scant 85-minute duration with a delightful freshness.

Aubrey Plaza, adding subtle complexities to her usual awkward demeanor, plays a Seattle-based magazine intern who, along with an arrogant reporter (New Girl’s Jake M. Johnson, whose comedic timing is impeccable here) and a nerdy fellow intern (Karan Soni, who’s also spot-on with his one-liners), track down an eccentric grocery store worker (Mark Duplass) after he requests a partner for time travel through the classifieds.

The expected beats are all hit: There’s an obvious love connection, the geek caps off his first drunken night with some sex, and the douchebag betters himself. Fortunately, screenwriter Derek Connolly’s characters are well developed, and the actors uniformly sell every quieter moment and sillier, punchline-dependent gag. A real actor’s showcase, Safety Not Guaranteed charms more than enough to allow you to overlook any minor qualms.