Don’t Think Twice.
I’m a huge fan of the comedian Mike Birbiglia, who has a few incredible standup comedy specials available on Netflix. He wrote and directed this film, packed with outstanding comedic talent. So when I saw it finally arrive on Netflix (and Amazon Prime), I definitely wanted to check it out.
We meet an improv comedy group in New York, struggling to make ends meet. This is truly an ensemble piece, with each member of the cast getting depth and nuance. Birbiglia stars as the oldest member of the team (and drama teacher) who struggles with watching his students become successful, while he remains unnoticed. We also have Keegan-Michael Key as the most ambitious of the group, putting himself front and center when the hit show Weekend Live (a synonym for Saturday Night Live) sends reps to one of their shows. He’s currently dating another member of the crew, played by Gillian Jacobs (of Community fame). We also have Kate Micucci, an artist who keeps on putting off her dreams and unfinished projects, and Chris Gethard as a member of the cast that works part-time giving out samples at grocery stores, not impressing his judgmental father. Lastly, we have Tami Sagher as an entitled daughter from a rich family who can’t quite relate with the struggles of the rest of the group.
I thoroughly enjoyed Don’t Think Twice but I think it’s mostly because of my theater background. If you’ve done theater, especially improv theater, this movie is made for you, full of nods and jokes to that culture and lifestyle. If you haven’t done this, this movie will still provide an interesting “behind the scenes” look at this life in a very authentic way.
I also relate to this movie because I’m a 30-something struggling with balancing art and career and hopes and dreams and this movie is all about that, mostly through Birbiglia’s character. At what point do you give up on your dreams? It’s complicated and rich and seeing these six characters come together (and clash together) is fascinating. These performances are all very good, though subtle. That subtlety is perfectly juxtaposed against their wild antics on stage.
The movie is funny, yes, but not in a way that you’ll often laugh out loud. It’s funny in the way that it’s true and sharp and satirical. It’s funny in the way that you’ll nod your head and silently mouth “Yes” after a joke.
What doesn’t work?
I can’t speak to how entertaining this would be to someone outside the theater scene. It might be interesting but a lot of the wit might be lost.
It also drags a bit in the final stretch, I found myself playing on my phone and not paying attention. Maybe it could have just been trimmed a bit or sped up in the final third.
Don’t Think Twice is a really great ensemble character piece, about six people at very different places in their lives. It’s witty and clever, mostly to those of you that might get the jokes. It’s available now on both Netflix and Amazon Prime, I’d recommend it if you want to try something under the radar.