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Don't Think Twice - Cinemaholic Movie Reviews
one person's obsessive addiction to film
Don't Think Twice
Directing: A-
Acting: A-
Writing: A-
Cinematography: B
Editing: B+

Don't Think Twice isn't so much a comedy as it is a drama about talented and very funny people. This is a tricky line to balance, but Mike Birbiglia, who wrote and directed, has an established history of humor laced with layered depth, both as a comedian and in his previous film, Sleepwalk with Me (2012). That movie was a decent autobiographical account of his sleepwalking exploits as a touring comedian; Don't Think Twice is an insightful, fictionalized look at how success affects even the most intimate of friendships and relationships.

It's also a clear love letter to the art form of improv. This may be why not all of the improv depicted onscreen is hi-larious -- because that's the way improv really goes. The live performances seen in the film were actual, unscripted performances for live audiences that were recorded and used in the film. The characters' love of the craft is felt from the beginning, when each of the five principles take turns narrating a short history of how improv came to be appreciated as an art form of its own rather than just as warm-up.

There's Miles (Birbiglia), the improv teacher who created this troupe that has come to be known as a "breeding ground" for the obvious Saturday Night Live stand-in, called Weekend Live. People come with hopes and dreams of "graduating" up to that show, sometimes with no understanding of what improv is and how it differs from working on a live sketch comedy show. Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) is the potential break-out star with a slight penchant for showboating; Samantha (Gillian Jacobs) is his girlfriend towing the line of his dreams but really just content to stay in improv; Allison (Kate Micucci) and Bill (Chris Gerhard) have aspirations as comedy writers; Lindsay (Tami Sagher) still lives at home with her wealthy parents but wants to use this career trajectory to gain some independence.

They've all been performing together for roughly a decade, and thus are a tight-knit group of friends, a family really, with all the expected jealousies and resentments that come with it. So when one of them auditions for Weekend Live and actually gets the job, the entire group is thrown for a loop and struggles with how to cope.

That's really what Don't Think Twice is about, and the humor, although there is still plenty of that, is secondary. Here is a case where any person's use of humor is a clear choice they are making, a reflection of their character. Sometimes it's used inappropriately but for the right reasons: such as to make a friend feel better. Sometimes it's used as a weapon; sometimes as a defense; sometimes as a self-serving means to get ahead. It's often genuinely funny, but the humor here is never just funny. It is fraught with multiple meaning, and that's precisely what makes this film worth seeing.

The world needs more small but expertly crafted movies like this one, which are both entertaining and about something real. It makes you think and it makes you feel, and it makes you think about how you're feeling. If only more comedy cut at the heart of human matters like this.

Mike Bisbiglia said on Twitter that spending the word is the ad budget for this movie, so I do hope my review helps spread the word, and gets at least a few people to see it. It's hard not to be impressed, even with what little marketing they have managed: the trailer itself is refreshingly devoid of telling too much of the story (most of the clips used in the trailer happen within the first few minutes of the movie). It has an ensemble cast that gives each principle character their own narrative arc and voice, all of them vital to the broader story. Do yourself a favor and see this movie, both for your own sake and so that others are encouraged to make more like it.

Kate Micucci, Mike Birbiglia, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher, Gillian Jacobs and Keegan-Michael Key struggle to take their own advice in DON'T THINK TWICE.

Overall: B+
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