by Ryan Pollard
Written, co-starring, co-produced and directed by Mike Birbiglia, Don’t Think Twice is a unique film showcasing a particular kind of world about a gruelling hustle of comics, writers and improvisers that are trying to make their big break and step up in the field of improvisational comedy. Those who feared that this film would be too “inside baseball” for die-hard comedic nerds need not worry, since this is a film where the emotions and relationships portrayed are universal and would connect to audiences on a deeper level. Thanks to a talented ensemble cast, the poignant sequences land while there also moments of genuine humour, resulting in a film that’s humble in its intentions and will stick with you long after the credits roll.
As stated in the beginning, the most important aspect about improv comedy is the group of people taking part, and this film is about each character and how each of them slowly let go of the group and moves on with their own lives. As a result, this is much more of a drama than a comedy, and what comedy we have here is character based and is therefore intertwined in every scene. The friction within this group starts to arise when outside forces begin to break the rules they stood by as their most popular member gets called to an audition for ‘Weekend Live’, which was what his teacher and leader of the group wanted for so long. The audition also results in a divide between himself and his girlfriend, and soon, all friendships are put to the test and risk being shattered forever in the pursuit for fame and glory.
The themes and messages this movie presents are all helped thanks to Birbiglia’s writing and visual style, which showcases how each scene is shot with care and attention, especially when reflecting the state of the characters. The performances are brilliantly nuanced and emotionally charged thanks to a likeable cast consisting of Birbiglia, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate Micucci and so on, but it’s Gillian Jacobs (of Community fame) that is true star of the show. This is notable towards the end when she performs her last improv show, becoming more and more satisfied with her own independence.
Don’t Think Twice is a film about a close troupe that slowly falls apart yet end up accepting their own maturity. They realise that the only way to move forward with their own lives and to keep their close friendships strong is to let each person follow their own path. This is real mature storytelling and Birbiglia pulls it off brilliantly. The film never drags or falters, the comedy is genuine, the characters are relatable, and the drama doesn’t feel contrived or forced, making for a satisfying experience.
Dir: Mike Birbiglia
Scr: Mike Birbiglia
Cast: Keegan-Michael Key, Mike Birbiglia, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher, Chris Gethard
Prd: Mike Birbiglia, Miranda Bailey, Amanda Marshall, Ira Glass
DOP: Joe Anderson
Music: Roger Neill
Run time: 92 mins
Don’t Think Twice is available on digital download from 22nd May.