While looking for the next great article, a group of three reporters from a Seattle-based magazine travel out to the suburbs to follow up on a strange advertisement they found in a newspaper. The ad claimed that the goal of the person’s mission was to travel back in time. While initially doing some recon work, the team attempts to send in Jeff but fails to make positive contact. In contrast, Darius makes an almost instant connection with Kenneth and gets him to accept her into his training program. As the two begin to spend a lot of time together, it is clear that Kenneth continues to feel more comfortable letting Darius get closer, while Darius seems to find something she had been seeking for quite some time…understanding. The big question that continues to remain is whether the time travel is real or if Kenneth has some sort of ulterior motive.
Starring: Aubrey Plaza (Darius), Mary Lynn Rajskub (Bridget), Jake Johnson (Jeff), Karan Soni (Arnau), Jeff Garlin (Mr. Britt), Mark Duplass (Kenneth), William Hall Jr. (Shannon), Jenica Bergere (Liz), Tom Ricciardelli (Security Guard), Kristen Bell (Belinda)
Mostly focused on the reporting team and the time-traveler, the single word to describe the group is quirky. Aubrey Plaza is quite charming in her dark, mysterious way. She exhibits an off-beat personality that is searching for meaning and understanding of her existence. Mark Duplass is able to be intense while also portraying the struggle of loss and regret through his time traveling project. Jake Johnson is a bit of an inconsistent member of the cast but is able to highlight some of the related concepts of time travel with his storyline.
This story is quite the odd comedy and Colin Trevorrow deserves some recognition for directing something more unique that other feature films. The discovery of this ad was a turning point for each of the members of the reporting team. For Arnau, his less-traveled life and timid personality met head-on with Jeff’s more boisterous attitude. Forced to break out of his comfort zone, he finished the film in a more experienced place than when it started. For Jeff, he had an opportunity to explore an old relationship and see if he could travel back in time to when he was infatuated with Bridget. It was not until they reconnected that he realized both of them had moved on. Darius’s story connected well with Kenneth’s, in that they both were trying to fill voids. For Darius, she had yet to find something that she could put herself whole-heartedly into, while Kenneth felt a loss from his past that he wanted to use the time machine to go back and fix.
The film’s message is actually two-fold: the title actually references the dangerous road of love while also highlighting the dangers of looking back. Kenneth had an infatuation with Belinda when they were kids and felt unable to love again after the incident with her then-boyfriend’s house. Meeting Darius gave him a potential partner for the time travel but eventually scared him by how close they had become. Arnau had avoided taking risks until this trip but found himself actually pursuing an intimate connection with someone through the coercion of Jeff. Uncharted territory or avoidance of taking a risk of love plagued these characters prior to this story. For the concept of looking back, Kenneth had been obsessed with the missed opportunity with Belinda from high school. Being so focused on trying to fix his mistakes had left him blind to new possibilities. Jeff became enamored with the possibility of reconnecting with Bridget but neglected to consider how life changes people’s desires.
While definitely a smaller budget and attention film, it packs in a lot of great moments and elements. The quirkiness is well balanced with the cast but may also not be attractive to everyone.
Dan’s Rating: 3.5/5