**** (four stars)
The hipster contingent at Sundance may scoff at the crowd-pleasing warmth of "Safety Not Guaranteed," a cheerfully comic romance that starts with cynicism and ends up somewhere else entirely. It begins when jaded Seattle magazine reporter Jeff (Jake Johnson) pitches a story – about a classified ad seeking a time-travel companion – and drags two interns, morose Darius (Aubrey Plaza) and nerdy Arnau (Karan Soni) to track down the ad's writer. Darius finds him, a grocery clerk named Kenneth (Mark Duplass), who says he is building a time machine and enlists a wary Darius into his training regimen. Director Colin Trevorrow and writer Derek Connolly create a touching and funny comedy that veers from absurdity to tenderness with ease. Credit Plaza ("Parks and Recreation") for breaking through Darius' sarcastic shell, and Duplass for finding the genius within the madness.
Sean P. Means
"Safety Not Guaranteed" screens again (with the macabre short "Bear"):
Tuesday, Jan. 24, 8:30 a.m., Library Center Theatre, Park City
Thursday, Jan. 26, Eccles Theatre, Park City
Friday, Jan. 27, 6:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center, Salt Lake City
Saturday, Jan. 28, 11:30 a.m., The MARC, Park City