Don’t think twice about seeing ‘Don’t Think Twice’

By Tyler Movsessian

('Don't Think Twice' Official Facebook Page)
(‘Don’t Think Twice’ Official Facebook Page)

“Don’t Think Twice” is such a clever idea that it works.

This film takes place in New York where an improv comedy group called “The Commune” performs out of a closing theater and struggles to find a new home. Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) stars as a member of the troupe who lands a spot on “Weekend Live,” a “Saturday Night Live”-esque show where his fame takes new heights, testing the bonds between the group members.

Writer-director Mike Birbiglia carefully develops each character, delving into their lives outside of the Commune, which makes the film as unpredictable as a good improv session. Between Jack and Samantha’s (Gillian Jacobs) rocky relationship due to Jack’s new job, and Miles’ (Birbiglia) affairs with his improv students in his college dorm-looking room, there’s plenty of messiness behind the effort to keep the Commune afloat.

Birbiglia avoids shoving jokes down the viewers’ throats at every turn, but there are plenty of smart, chuckle-worthy moments. Also, the jokes can be more appreciated as awkward, corny and often sly because all the characters are improv performers, and these extra jokes tied in with the script define their characters even more.

Joe Anderson’s cinematography is also enjoyable. His camerawork is particularly great when the Commune performs and viewers get a stage-side view of the performance. There is a separate angle from the crowd audience and the performers, and this adds to the immersion in the clever and hilarious skits that the improvisers perform.

The main point to criticize with this movie is its anticlimactic ending. The movie was fairly short (just over 90 minutes) and Birbiglia certainly could have done a better job tying up all of the end stories to give us more of an answer to how the rest of the character arcs panned out.

There’s also largely a lack of identifiable music, and sometimes only silence fills in the longer gaps between dialogues. There were certain moments in the film where actions would evoke a certain mood, and had Birbiglia added music to sharpen those moods, the audience may have felt a fuller connection to the story.

Still, “Don’t Think Twice” is a must-see. The script is well-written, the jokes are timed perfectly and the character development is spot-on. The movie has its flaws, but so does an improv show, and that inherent spontaneous charm make both a good pick-me-up when you need one.

Tyler Movsessian can be reached at [email protected]