Don't Think Twice Movie Review
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Improv, also known as improvisational theatre is a form of (usually comical) theatre created on the spot. Good old Wikipedia describes it as “where most or all of what is performed is created at the moment it is performed. In its purest form, the dialogue, action, story, and characters are created collaboratively by the players as the improvisation unfolds in present time, without use of an already prepared, written script.”
Some argue that improv is the hardest form of theatre there is, while others say that it’s not theatre at all. Regardless of what you want to call it or categorize it as, improv requires a skill that not everyone has. Comedic timing, comfort and ease on stage must be natural. Above all else, you must be a team player.
There are three cardinal rules in the improve world:
1. Say yes.
2. It’s all about the group.
3. Don’t think.
The objective is to build on the reality that you and your partner create, not to overshadow and take over. You are living in the moment. Instead of saying no to an idea, you say yes and figure out how to work it in to your ideas. This is ultimate form of teamwork, as most of this takes place in a matter of seconds while you are on stage in front of a captivated audience.
Don’t Think Twice is a story of an improvisational team known as The Commune. The ultimate goal of the members is the hope to catch their big break and be hired onto Weekend Live, the film’s version of Saturday Night Live. The members are all mid to late 40s and are all individually having a mid-life crisis in various forms as they each attempt to come to grips with their lack of success in the comedic world.
Some brief history on me here: I graduated from high school four years ago and dabbled in the theatre arts. Many of my friends were theatre kids but often times I could only take small doses of those kids. Ya know…the ones that competitively clamor for the spotlight even within the most mundane tasks? Is it innate or is it a product of their environment? I suppose it depends on the person, but within this group of friends, I think it’s mostly environmental. Don’t Think Twice talks about how they are these normal people with boring jobs but when they get on the stage, they are truly different and definitely more alive.
When one of their own, Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), gets hired as part of the Weekend Live team, the Commune digests the information differently. Jealousy, the drive to do better and mounting frustrations manifest from the members as Jack (who unconsciously shows an aversion to the second cardinal rule; “It’s all about the group”) becomes a big shot.
Miles (Mike Birbiglia) is the creator of the group as well as the member who came “within inches” of being hired onto Weekend Live so many years ago. The group he leads consists of Allison (Kate Micucci), Bill (Chris Gethard), Liz (Maggie Kemper) and Samantha (Gillian Jacobs). Not only the writing, but also the performances by the cast perfectly encapsulates the feeling of inadequacies, insecurities, group camaraderie and hope. Many of these people also grapple with the reality that maybe they aren’t going to make it big but some of their friends will. How do you come to terms with that?
The audience should truly feel as if they are a fly on the wall as this band of misfits tries to make it big in the cut-throat world of acting and improv. Don’t Think Twice is funny and light-hearted throughout, but it’s the current buzzing just beneath the words spoken, that sets it apart. The competitive drive that has each member sizing other fellow members up is what makes this story so much more than your average comedy. The stakes are high and not everyone will make it. Sure you can learn improv but you need to have that it factor to really make it big. Also remember when you’re on stage, whatever you do, Don’t Think Twice.
And in case you missed it, we were able to sit down with the man behind this entire project and ask him a few questions. Our interview with Mike Birbiglia can be found right here. You can catch Don’t Think Now playing exclusively in the metro Detroit area at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak.