Don't Think Twice (2016)
August 6, 2016 12:00 PM - Subscribe

When a member of a popular New York City improv troupe gets a huge break, the rest of the group - all best friends - start to realize that not everyone is going to make it after all.
posted by donajo (13 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I saw an early screening of this film a few weeks ago, and loved it. The tensions among the main cast members are realistic and believable, and it's clear they practiced improvising together--even though the shows-within-the-show were (mostly) scripted, there's a naturalness to the scene work and edits that makes them feel like real takes from improv performances.

Mike Birbiglia and Chris Gethard did a Q&A after the movie here, and told the story about how Chris did ad-lib one fantastic line during a "show" scene (vague to avoid spoilers, but it's the one about what a character is wearing in his casket). It so clearly had to stay in, which meant they'd have to film the scene several more times to get all the angles, which would throw off their tight shooting schedule. Like most directors, it seems Birbiglia is a bit of a, uh, "control enthusiast" (cf. Joss Whedon), so he was almost sad.
Worth the extra effort, though, since it's one of the funniest lines in the movie.

For me, though, what made the movie resonate most wasn't the humor or the depiction of what improvisors do, but it's emotional truth.

Highly recommended, whether or not you have the slightest interest in improvisational theatre. If you do, then it's extra delightful.
posted by Superplin at 3:21 PM on August 6, 2016

I'm an enormous fan of Gillian Jacobs, so I will check this out.
posted by Pendragon at 4:50 PM on August 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

You're in for a treat, Pendragon. Gillian Jacobs is fantastic in this.
posted by chrchr at 5:38 PM on August 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Okay, I have no idea if it will ever make it to my tiny burg, but is this good in a fun way or good in a super depressing kind of way?
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:27 PM on August 14, 2016

Both! It's funny and sad. I am not normally one to want to see a sad movie, but I'm so glad I saw this.
posted by chrchr at 9:40 PM on August 14, 2016

The recent Comedy Bang Bang with Birbiglia discusses the movie, although its CBB so the ep derails pretty fast, in fact it may not even start on the rails. But it did its job and now I want to see the movie.
posted by kittensofthenight at 11:51 AM on August 18, 2016

Episode 261 of Scriptnotes is an interview of friend-of-the-show Mike Birbiglia by Craig Mazin (as John is off doing John things). In addition to lengthy discussion of the movie, they also answer reader questions.

Mike points out that the Scriptnotes podcast is mentioned in the film's acknowledgements, a statement that mildly flummoxes Craig, who famously listens to no podcasts and can't quite understand why anyone would. That doesn't get in the way of an interesting conversation, though.
posted by Superplin at 5:50 AM on August 19, 2016

I dunno all the hype for this movie and it just left me mildly disappointed. The performances were good but the "comedy" scenes just weren't very funny, I think because they weren't improv and they weren't the kind of humor that Birbiglia is usually good at. The scenes felt rushed, like it was the abridged version of whatever they filmed. And the ending was a very soft landing. Everything ends up just the way you imagine. Usually I like happy endings but I think I was so prepared to be sad that I was just of let down. Which is double sad cause I love everything else Birbiglia has done.
posted by bleep at 11:34 PM on August 22, 2016

But I mean he seems like such a gentle low key guy that what else could you expect?
posted by bleep at 11:35 PM on August 22, 2016

Movie was boring and definitely not funny. Also the main plot point didn't make sense. (spoiers ahead). Couldn't the guy who got the job just be like to his friends, "hey im at the low end of the totem pole and in a pretty precarious position myself, so there's really not much i can do".
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:56 AM on August 27, 2016 [1 favorite]

I saw this last night.

I give the film a solid 3 out of 5. It was... more thoughtful. And I don't think much about showbiz or improv.

I think it's a movie that will be a cult classic for a specific cult.
posted by rebent at 5:30 AM on September 2, 2016

I really enjoyed this, although I think I'm more primed to be receptive to a dramedy about comedians. Part of the underlying setup, I'd say, is that the Commune is not very good (as evidenced by Jack, the one guy who does get to punch his golden ticket, still being in a very precarious position once he gets there) and there are tons of shoestring groups that are just good enough to maybe-but-not-really have a chance to do more.

It's a character study about people who are really energized by the hivemind experience (spending all their free time together) and the uncertainty of what'll happen when they get onstage any given night, but are hidebound by their devotion to rituals: not just the backstage pep-up activities and kissing the bear statue, but the single opening question they use to start every show. They are comfortable but precarious, and both Sam and Data in particular are unable to get their shit together until well after it absolutely falls on them to do so.

Couldn't the guy who got the job just be like to his friends, "hey im at the low end of the totem pole and in a pretty precarious position myself, so there's really not much i can do".

He does gently say things to that effect, but this is also a group that is very, very emotionally tangled together and he's already in the doghouse enough by having had the audacity to shine a light on himself in what was supposed to be a team environment. I can imagine why it'd be so hard to say no.

And the ending was a very soft landing. Everything ends up just the way you imagine.

Yes and no. I was actually uncertain whether they'd all part ways or all pull together in the end, and I found that the ending (where four of them just washed out of living/performing in NYC and decamped for a cheaper life in PA/IL, still struggling and knocking on middle age, while the two of them with real ambition were hanging on to the ladder) was satisfying enough.
posted by psoas at 11:16 AM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just saw this and just loved it. I know nothing of the improv scene, but I found it extremely resonant and rare to show how friendship dynamics change over time, especially as you leave your 20s. It just felt extremely real to me, and I appreciated the lack of judgement, the empathy, toward these different people on their different paths. Also I thought the jokes were funny. I'm still chuckling about the bizarre wooden bicycle.
posted by latkes at 9:26 PM on June 11, 2021

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