Don’t Think Twice is a comedy about an improv troupe, written and directed by a very talented stand-up comic named Mike Birbiglia. His previous film, Sleepwalk With Me, was ripped right from a popular stand-up routine of his, but Don’t Think Twice is really its own story, and while Birbiglia plays a role, he also shares screen time with a talented cast.
The improv troupe, who call themselves The Commune, consists of Matt (Birbiglia), Sam (Gillian Jacobs), Allison (Kate Micucci), Lindsay (Tami Sagher), Bill (Chris Gethard) , and Jack (Keegan-Michael Key). They’re a really solid group who perform really well together, but their NYC theatre is struggling to stay open, and everyone’s chasing their own dream of performing on Weekend Live (an exact replica of SNL).
The movie is quite smartly written. Sam and Jack, a couple, are chosen by Weekend Live’s people to come in for an audition. Their friends, filled with achy jealousy, do their best to support and congratulate their luck. But how long can that tenuous brave face hold, especially if one of them is actually cast, and realizes the one thing that every one of them has been yearning for? Don’t Think Twice is bittersweet. It’s about pursuing your dreams, but also about the cost of actually having them come true.
The cast really sells this stuff. They trained in improv together (Gillian Jacobs was a complete noob) for weeks in order to then be filmed in front of audiences. The result is spontaneous and often quite funny. But the movie itself is not full of “jokes” but finds it laughs in the webbing of the characters.
Chris Gethard is an improv junkie, a member of the Upright Citizens Brigade since 2000, and as an offshoot of that, the host of his own show, aptly named The Chris Gethard Show, which is wildly chaotic and fun. He was a guest writer on SNL for one episode.
After performing with legendary improv troupe Second City (Chicago), Keegan-Michael Key appeared on MADtv, cast against Jordan Peele with the intention that FOX would choose between them and only have one (token) black cast member. Both were riotous and proved their worth, and so they both stayed on, creating a lasting partnership. They produced Key & Peele sketches for Comedy Central for 5 seasons, and wrote a movie together this year, called Keanu.
Tami Sagher was also a member of Chicago’s Second City. She’s been nominated for 4 Writers Guild of America Awards; 3 for MADtv, and 1 for 30 Rock. She’s also written for Psych, How I Met Your Mother, and Inside Amy Schumer, and produced for Bored to Death, Girls, and The Michael J. Fox Show.
Kate Micucci you may recognize as one half of the musical-comedy duo Garfunkel and Oates (she’s Oates, if that’s not obvious). They perform everywhere, including regularly on your television (and on Netflix!), and the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in L.A. (beginning to see a theme here?). She’s been on Scrubs and The Big Bang Theory.
Gillian Jacobs is along for the ride. You may have a softer spot for her if you watched her on Community, but I know her from the Netflix original series Love, where she played the world’s most obnoxious character (or possibly the second most – the guy she plays opposite is just as bad and I could never decide who was worse), and I continue to hate her for it to this day.
Together though, they coalesce into a strong unit that makes this movie feel real. Birbiglia is showing aptitude in his direction, and the writing backs up a talented cast. There’s an intimacy here that can’t be faked, and a truth that elevates this film from just laugh-out-loud funny to heartfelt honesty at times, and biting satire at others. Don’t Think Twice currently enjoys a 99% approval rating from Rotten Tomatoes, which makes this movie higher rated than La La Land (93%), Fences (95%), Manchester by the Sea (97%), or Moonlight (98%). Is it actually better than those movies? No. But it’s well done, funnier than most big-release comedies this year, and it’s made with a clear love of a uniquely American art form.
I haven’t heard of this at all and don’t know the actors either but it sounds good from what you wrote
I like the sound of this one. I used to watch Whose Line Is It Anyway? when I was younger and really like improv comedy as a result. When it’s done we’ll, it’s pretty tough to beat.
*well (autocorrect fail right there)
Hi Jay, I liked it very much. Pretty surprised, though, by the Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Looking forward to seeing what unfolds at the Golden Globes. It’s been a good movie year!
Good review Jay, though not my kind of movie, it’s good to hear people can still do comedy well.
I’ve never heard of this until now, but I’m sold.
The only thing I know Gillian Jacobs from is a film called Gardens of the Night which was not very good, but it’s not a comedy so this should be different. Great review!
I’ve been seeing good reviews for this movie. I’m glad that even after the cancelation of their show, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are enjoying success in the film industry. They’re both funny as hell.
As I writer, I have experienced first hand the jealousy that comes with seeing other writers succeed. I’m not proud of it by a long shot, but I’m even jealous of my own mother because of my father’s constant praise of her book and apparent apathy towards mine. People just have to realize that for artists jealousy is a part of life and like any other negative feeling, to just let it pass.
Ah, improv… I do love good improv. I’ll probably see this at some point. (Of course, you’ve never really experienced improv until you’ve seen a middle school theater class attempt it 😉
Awesome — this sounds really good! I’ve been looking for a decent comedy lately.
Thank you! Can’t wait to watch this one.
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