“Don’t Think Twice”
Written and Directed by Mike Birbiglia
I’m not a huge fan of small ensemble films about performers. Maybe because I am one (a seriously jaded one, at that), I find them tedious, derivative and filled with endings that are completely unrealistic in their “boy-gets-girl”, or “now he’s a star!” bullshit. So I was not eagerly seeking out a film made up almost entirely of six actors/improv artists sitting around performing on stage….and off. However, this is, simultaneously, one of the funniest AND most depressing films of the year, and THAT dichotomy is something I can get behind.
Birtiglia obviously knows his subject matter…better than most, I would imagine, as the plot simply revolves around the desire of six members of a successful improv troupe to be picked up by “Saturday Night Live” (renamed ‘Weekend Live” to avoid the wrath of Lorne Michaels, no doubt). But that’s merely the hamster wheel that gives the script three acts. The REAL themes revolve around defining the nature of success…and how the inextricable onset of middle-age affects our ability to recognize how that definition changes…and, in fact, may have passed us by. And in that manner, this is an entirely successful film.
The six performers, spear-headed by the outstanding (and surprising) Gillian Jacobs and Birtiglia himself, are obviously some of the most accomplished improv artists working today, which is a good thing, because the movie is made up almost entirely of freestyle improv. Their chemistry together allows the script to flow underneath the humor, longing and fear. The remaining core serve as a Greek chorus to the Sisyphus-like struggles of our antagonist, Keegan-Michael Key. In this regard, Chris Gethard stands out. His Charlie Brown demeanor combined with his understated comic presence are a wonder to behold.
Listen, this is not a big film, nor the most important film. But if you have ever longed for success in a particular field or profession from a young age, and either never realized it, or, worse, did, and, once achieved, discovered it wasn’t what you hoped, than you will FULLY relate to this film…
Oh, and almost every moment is really f*cking funny. Well, worth your time investment…and one you will probably watch again and again once it hits the streaming services.
Written on September 13, 2016