“Don’t Think Twice” #ConTENders 2016

This week’s Railroad Square Cinema viewing was a film that I had requested to be shown there (not that my lone voice had much of an impact on the owners’ decision), but a #ConTENder for the best film of the year is the 2016 comedy/drama:


Don’t Think Twice is a film about an improv group known as The Commune, who perform in New York City, and not-so-secretly wish they could be cast in the thinly-veiled allegory to Saturday Night Live called Weekend Live. Jack Mercer (played brilliantly by Keegan-Michael Key), lands the role and it causes a dynamic fissure amongst the entire team. But in reality, the film is about failure. Writer/ Director Mike Birbiglia said as much when interviewed on the Scriptnotes podcast:

Well, when I think about it, my first film, Sleepwalk With Me, is about success, as this is a film about failure. You know, I think something kicking around in my head was, after the first movie, I had a lot of people come up to me and say I started doing standup because I saw Sleepwalk With Me. And I thought, well that’s not what the movie is about.

The movie is actually about finding your voice in whatever field that you might be in. And so I felt like why shouldn’t there be a movie about failure and how life is unfair?

When I had heard this, it exacerbated my need to watch this film as soon as humanly possible. Soon, I’m going to make a bold move in my life and head out west (I live in Maine now so you can imagine how much of a change that’ll be), and it was pertinent that I see this film before I left, and that’s why I e-mailed the theater to request that they play it (and they did because they’re amazing at selecting high quality, limited release films).

Every person who has a creative mind has to see this film, because it shines a light on the downside of aspirations, taking chances, and following your dream. It’s important to see what could happen, and if you’re able to live with those outcomes, should they happen in your own journey.

The film is quite funny, however, and the majority of the humor comes from the improv shows the casts performs on stage as The Commune, which by the way, was all real performances.

It’s way funnier than this photo makes it look.

The cast is also amazing, as each member of the comedy troupe is given a lot of character development, and really grow as characters, some naturally more than others, but that tends to happen when we have six keys. I think Kate Micucci gets the least amount to do, and that’s a shame, because between Garfunkel and Oates, and the podcast Doug Loves Movies, I’ve seen and heard her do some great bits.

Keegan-Michael Key and Gillian Jacobs truly have a great connection, that makes their relationship in the film (and the former’s role in Weekend Live) all the more important as a test to their relationship.

Birbiglia himself nails the older member of the group who keeps touting his audition for the live sketch show back in 2003. Instead of getting the part, he winds up teaching many up and comers who have, and when Jack gets it too, it eats him up inside, and eventually boils to the surface.

Chris Gethard is great as the diminutive Bill, whose only ever wanted his father’s respect. Tami Sagher is the “lucky one” of the group, and often provides much-needed things to her friends, thanks to her rich parents’ money.

Each performance speaks to a different reaction to losing the shot at one’s dreams, and surely everyone will relate to at least one, if not more. Watch this movie as soon as you can, and you’ll know that failure can be OK too, as it only enlightens the correct path.

-Jamie (@GuyOnAWire)

Keep up to date with which films may make my Top 10 of 2016 by clicking here.



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