Film, Film Review

REVIEW: Don’t Think Twice (2016) dir. Mike Birbiglia

Now playing @ KENDALL

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When does pursuing a dream stop being worth it? How do you know when you’ve reached your peak? What do you do when your friend succeeds while you remain in the same place?

And how do you perform improv comedy for a crowd that’s just not feeling it?

Don’t Think Twice focuses on an NYC-based improv troupe called The Commune. Led by Miles (Mike Birbiglia), the members of The Commune perform at a failing theater in the hopes of making it big in the comedy scene. Outside of performing, they teach classes, work at groceries stores or restaurants, or just get stoned. When one of their members, Jack (Keegan Michael-Key), lands a role on Weekend Live (the film’s generic version of SNL), his relationship with the group takes a turn for the worse. What follows is a story about jealousy and looking deep within yourself. And also orphan jokes.

If you’re worried about not understanding the nuance of comedy world inside jokes, don’t be. This film is far more concerned with decaying friendship than the inner workings of improv theater.

Gillian Jacobs has a standout role as Sam, Jack’s girlfriend and key player in The Commune. She has the same opportunities as Jack, but decides to skip her Weekend Live audition. Jacobs infuses the character with genuine sadness, as she realizes that perhaps her relationship with Jack can’t survive his newfound fame. Her role is my favorite part of the film, and I can’t wait to see what she does after this.

Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci, and Tami Sagher round out the talented cast. Just like a good improv team, they all support each other. Mike Birbiglia plays low-key scummy very well, and it’s easy to dislike and sympathize with him.

Though somewhat solemn, Don’t Think Twice has an optimistic center. Sure, not everyone can get a role on Weekend Live, but that doesn’t mean everyone is a failure. Dreams can change. They don’t always come true in the ways that you expect. Birbiglia understands this, and he delivers a heartfelt film about extended transitional periods and the fundamentals of comedy.

Don’t Think Twice
2016
dir. Mike Birbiglia
92 min.

Now playing at Coolidge Corner Theatre and Kendall Square Cinema

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