Thursday, September 8, 2016

Don't Think Twice

*** out of ****

Despite some rave reviews surrounding Mike Birbiglia’s latest dramedy, Don’t Think Twice, I was a little underwhelmed by its story of success-jealousy in the entertainment world - even if it succeeded in being the kind of truthful work that this artist is so well known for.

It is a good movie, considering that it is lovingly about improvisational comedy – an art that even at its most impressive fails to make me laugh most of the time. Its story follows a team of struggling comic actors, played by Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci, Tami Sagher and Birbiglia.

When one of the team-members hits it big by winning a role on the movie’s version of Saturday Night Live, the group praises its member’s triumph before the inevitable anger and envy begins to tear apart the big friendship they all once shared.

While the movie is not quite as funny as Judd Apatow’s Funny People, a film that dealt with this theme among others, it is comparatively focused and more honest. It is also refreshing to get an R-rated film where adult themes like sex, drug-use, and language are all casually part of the characters’ lives, but not in an explicit or indulgent sense.

Birbiglia doesn’t seem interested in proving that these characters are funny, but he tries selling the love of a theater group like he’s trying to sell a religion. I’m sure there are people who can identify with the notion of a chosen family through the arts.

Maybe despite the film’s fun cast and This American Life-style quirky life observations (the film is produced by Ira Glass), I feel as though I didn’t get to know its characters well enough to care about them. Some of their dramatic confrontations feel like the machinations of conventionally scripted content, which is ironic, given the subject matter.

I recommend this movie for its wisdom and humor, but I am no closer to enjoying improv comedy after having seen it.

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