Posted May 26 2017

Don't Think Twice - This Improv Movie Rocks All Suggestions

Dir: Mike Birbiglia

Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher

When writer-director-star Mike Birbiglia’s movie begins the first impulse is to take an instant dislike to just about all his central characters. Not only are they a troupe of improvisational stand ups – who constantly have a needy need to be funny and/or search for the potential gag in every thing uttered – they also all live together in the one apartment. So no one is ever “off.” Ever!

The strength and beauty of Birbiglia’s film, however, lies in the fact that about five minutes in you forgive all of this and become completely wrapped up in the lives of these brilliantly written and performed, nuanced people. The stand up’s directing debut is as witty as it is laugh out loud funny (though rarely in the on-stage scenes) and full of people you very quickly come to care about. After a brief introduction to the necessarily supportive nature of improv, Keegan-Michael Key’s Jack provides the drama in the piece when he becomes the one to land a gig on the TV show Weekend Live – a not terribly veiled take on SNL (although how Lorne Michaels reacted to his doppelganger producer remains unknown.) This threatens the imminent demise of the group just as they’re about to lose their theatre space.

Birbiglia’s film not only has a strong sense of the world he depicts – it is in part his own background in stand up – but a powerful sense of community. Each character is given room to breathe, all delivering note perfect moments, although none more so than Chris Gethard and, especially, Gillian Jacobs, who with this and Netflix’s Love is all but cornering the market in damaged but sexy vulnerability these days. If Audrey Hepburn was still alive, she’d be watching Gillian Jacobs’ movies.

Ending on a delicate piano version of Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright,  (from which it in part takes it title) Birbiglia’s film is a tiny but perfectly polished gem for anyone who’s had a "particulalry hard day."


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