Don’t Think Twice

It is easier to embrace the end of summer when Marvel films start to disappear and tiny, meaningful films like this one find an empty screen in a theater.

dont-think-twiceDon’t Think Twice, a film both starring and directed by Mike Birbiglia, is a hidden gem. Profoundly funny, it also serves as a window into the human experience when youthful hopes become little more than crushed dreams.

The film focuses on close friends who have worked for a long time in their own improv group. Their whole shtick is to play off each other when Sam (Gillian Jacobs), one of the performers, starts their show with the simple question, “Has anyone had a bad experience today?” The answer sets off a creative medley of interaction on stage, and the audience in the theater joined the audience on screen in raucous laughter.

While it is clear that everyone in this improv group enjoys their artistic success, they are all barely making a living. When the theater looks like it is closing, they suddenly face a future that holds little promise.

Though all of the characters wrestle with their emotional concerns off stage, the film centers on the personal relationship of Sam and Jack, played memorably by Keegan-Michael Key. They are as funny off stage as on, and wait until you see the golden moment where Sam pretends to be a bird trying to spit food into Jack’s mouth as they make love.

But without giving anything away, problems develop when Jack is asked to join the cast of the functional equivalent of Saturday Night Live. While his lover and friends all embrace his good fortune, they fight a gnawing sense of jealousy and resentment when it becomes clear that they will always be left behind.

Let me simply point out that you will treasure the performances of Mr. Key, Ms. Jacobs, Mr. Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher. As they pretend to spit in the face of a cruel destiny, this is another film that will cause you to have a tear in your eye as you watch them battle to remain relevant.

If you have the slightest doubt about the sheer joy of seeing this movie, let me point out that the audience around me loudly applauded at the film’s ending. It was almost as if we all were watching a live performance.