Sunday, December 11, 2016

Movie Review: "Don't Think Twice" (2016)

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Movie"Don't Think Twice"
Director: Mike Birbiglia
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 32 minutes

An independent improv group struggles to cope with their place in the world after one of their members gets his big break.

"Don't Think Twice" is written and directed by Mike Birbiglia. He also stars in the film alongside Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, and Tami Sagher. This cast makes up the members of the improv group known as The Commune, who have worked together for years. It is a troupe that performs at Improv America, a place that has had numerous members move on to bigger, better things in comedy and beyond. Unfortunately, the theater they once called home is about to close for good, meaning it's the last chance for many of them to make their name in comedy. This is especially for Miles, played by Birbiglia himself, who teaches aspiring improv actors at the school and is the longest running member of the troupe. Tensions get a little high amongst the members of the group when Jack, played by Key, gets his big break on "Weekend Live," a clear knockoff of "Saturday Night Live." Jack's girlfriend Samantha, played by Jacobs, also gets the chance to audition, but things don't go quite as planned for her.

This movie gives a very funny, honest look at the lives of aspiring actors on the improv scene. This is an experience many comedians have gone through, and since the film is written and directed by a comedian, we know it comes from a genuine place of truth. Birbiglia, as well as stars Keegan-Michael Key and Chris Gethard, all honed their craft on the improv scene before moving on to other things. The film looks into what happens when one member of a long-running team makes it in show business, while the remaining members get left behind. It also delves into how it changes relationships within the group, and not just on a friendship level. It's not just the successful person forgetting his friends or getting too busy and too famous to hang out with them. Those who didn't make it from The Commune start to look for their "in" with their newly famous comrade and start treating him as a resource rather than the pal they use to know. They want him to mention their names and show their writing to the right people so they can make it just like he did, never thinking or realizing that maybe they just don't have the right look or talent for such an unforgiving career.

"Don't Think Twice" is smart and witty. It never goes for cheap laughs. It also manages to be quite poignant and extremely heartbreaking, but is also exciting and provides an interesting take on what it means to truly "make it." While many mainstream Hollywood comedies are focused on how raunchy they can be or how far they can push the envelope, many indie comedies still try to find laughter in the truth of life, and this is where and how "Don't Think Twice" is so wildly successful. The acting is fantastic and the direction is strong, but the writing is even stronger. This is a great indie comedy absolutely worth checking out, especially if you are tired of the unfunny tripe Hollywood pushes out month after month. If only more people had taken the chance on this movie.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 99%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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