This movie has been on my radar for a bit now, thanks to someone putting those tiny little posters on my car in Hollywood. I had no idea what it really was. A TV show? A Youtube show? An actual movie? Or if it was a movie, was it a documentary? I’m not sure where I thought it was a documentary, as I hadn’t seen a trailer for it, but it’s been out for awhile now at select theatres and I just never took the time to get to know the movie. So I bit the bullet to see what all the hoopla was about. I have to say, this movie looked like it’d be pretty good. I was smiling at the trailer, I laughed a bit, and I was intrigued by its story.
The biggest star I recognized was Keegan-Michael Key, whom most will know from TV sketches KEY AND PEELE, or from the hilarious cat movie earlier this year, KEANU. He’s proven to be pretty funny and I kind of want to see what his KEY AND PEELE sketches are like, so his draw was certainly the strongest. Kate Micucci, from the comedy-folk duo Garfunkel and Oats, briefly on the TV show THE BIG BANG THEORY, and some may recognize her voice from the animated TV show STEVEN UNIVERSE. I liked what I heard when she sang “Weed Card,” and I liked her role in BIG BANG, but honestly, I’m not overly familiar with her. Still, I was curious. Gillian Jacobs, I wager, is more prominently recognized from the TV show COMMUNITY. I never watched it, but I imagine fans of hers may be interested. And finally, the writer and director of this picture, Mike Birbiglia. Again, not familiar with his name, as he’s only directed one full-length movie in the past: SLEEPWALK WITH ME (never seen it). But as far as his acting profile goes, he’s been in Netflix’s ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and some small roles in movies like, “POPSTAR,” “TRAINWRECK,” and “HOT PURSUIT.”
I went in with some moderately high hopes. I was expecting some strong laughs, and well-written characters, so let’s see how it held up. This is my honest opinion of DON’T THINK TWICE.
The story follows The Commune, an improv group of six best friends: Miles (Mike Birbiglia), Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), Bill (Chris Gethard), Allison (Kate Micucci), and Lindsay (Tami Sagher). Once upon a time, Miles was up for an audition on the popular TV show WEEKEND LIVE, but was rejected and always held a grudge against the show ever since, but still harbors wishes to get a second chance. He’s not the only one. Most of the group has similar wishes to be noticed by talents that make appearances at their improv shows, and when they do, Jack has a tendency to upstage the rest of the group, irking them. Well one day, it pays off and Jack gets a call that both he and his Sam, whom the two are in a romantic relationship, have auditions. This comes at a particularly awkward time when Bill’s father gets into a motorcycle accident and is in the hospital. But as Jack begins to realize his dreams and the others don’t make it like he does, the group slowly gets divided and the reality of their lives begins to take its effect that they haven’t reached their dreams like they’ve always wanted.
Not gonna lie, I’m not sure if I like my own summary for the movie. It makes it sound way too melodramatic, like something out of a Hallmark Channel, but please take my word for it… this movie is great. I can’t believe that I almost missed out on this movie because I thought it was a documentary. I’m a dumb-ass, what can I say? I wised up and took a crack at this one, and it paid off in spades.
I’ve become something of a recent fan of Key. I may not have cared much about his appearance in VACATION (2015), but pretty much ever since TOMORROWLAND, I’ve always valued seeing him on screen. He always leaves such a wonderful impression. After the hilarious film that was KEANU, I’m down for anything that Key is doing, and I’m so glad to see him in a grounded, very real role. I know this guy can play goofs really well, but I always crave comedians to do more dramatic stuff, as they always seem to shine in those roles, even if they’re not their most famous roles. Jim Carrey in THE MAJESTIC, Robin Williams in GOOD WILL HUNTING, now we can kind of add Key to this. It might be something of a cheat as it’s still a dramedy, but as it stands, I’m completely lost in his performance. He’s great.
Jacobs. Holy fucking shit, if there’s anyone that steals the show as much as Key does, it’s this woman. Suddenly, I have this passionate urge to write a personal apology to her for not having watched COMMUNITY because I can tell, she’d be my favorite person on that show. She’s so funny, and just like Key, her more dramatic moments are incredibly powerful. She is clearly the heart of the movie and probably has the most standout moments and scenes. While five out of six of these friends want a shot on WEEKEND LIVE, Sam is honest with herself and doesn’t believe really want to be on the show. She enjoys her time with The Commune and loves her life doing small improv scenes for smaller crowds. She’s not overly ambitious and I think that’s a really strong, really brave thing to have a character like that in a movie like this.
While I wish I could rave and rave about the rest of the cast, I just don’t have the willpower to do so, but everyone’s awesome. I do, however, wish Sagher and Micucci had more screentime and solo moments to let them shine as much as the others get to. They have them, don’t get me wrong, but a majority of the drama centers on the characters of Key, Jacobs, Birbiglia, and Gethard. Sagher and Micucci almost just round out the cast as supporting roles instead of equal spotlight with the other four.
But let me talk about this story. It’s incredibly unique. It’s so easy for writers to make a story about following your dreams and never giving up on them. That’s obviously not a problem or a tired story to write, but it’s been done. That’s not this movie. This movie is an honest look at a scenario if you did achieve your dreams, and the negatives of it, or if you just never got there at all. When was the last movie you saw that was like that? The closest I can think of is Pixar’s MONSTERS UNIVERSITY, but that entire story was just a build-up to the lesson rather than a kind of exploration of it.
In some ways, this movie is also kind of haunting. Being twenty-seven years old myself, I don’t exactly live on top of the world either. Each of these characters has mundane job that they would otherwise love to give up for something bigger. And these characters are implied to be in their thirties (or maybe I drastically misheard). But I have to swing right back around to the character Sam and my love for her because she’s perfectly happy with her current life. She has this passion for improv and thinks it’s okay to have a more low-key way of living that none of the other characters have. This is almost exactly how I feel about my own life. I work at restaurants a little more than a cashier or server. On the side, I’m writing these reviews, which I love. I won’t ever be a rich dude, but I don’t mind that. This movie, once again, kind of validated that it’s okay to feel the way I do about something.
As under-the-radar as this movie will be for most people, I think it’s a truly captivating film and I am truly sorry for nearly missing out on it. It may not be a laugh-out-loud kind of movie, but it’s a sweet, honest, and even inspiring. I highly recommend this movie if you’re looking for something that’s off the beaten path and a little more unique in its story.
My honest rating of DON’T THINK TWICE: 5/5
- HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE
- trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XGj3AogT9EM