Don't Think Twice
Why do people have to overcomplicate everything? If you're at a fancy restaurant but you're not hungry for a porterhouse or the coq au vin, get the lobster. If there's nothing on ABC or CBS, see what's happening on NBC. If you're a horny college professor with a frigid wife and a gold-digging mistress, bang a fresh-faced coed. It's pretty fucking simple, actually. Remember that on Election Day.
If Overcomplicated were a country, its national film would be Don't Think Twice. Even its title, which is based on one of the three rules of improv comedy, "Don't think," has an unnecessary extra word in it.
For all both of you out there who have been dying for an independent, post-mumblecore dramedy about a quirky improv troupe in NYC, your goofy facial hair, knit cap, awkward pause prayers have been answered. Written, directed by and starring Mike "Sosmallia" Birbiglia, Don't Think Twice stars a "murderers' row" (according to half the creatively bankrupt critics out there) of comedic powerhouses, only one of which most audience members will know by name.
Birbiglia, Kate "My Coochie" Micuchi, Tami "Pat" Sagher, Gillian "See My Boobs In Choke" Jacobs, Chris "Viagra Helps You" Gethard and Keegan-Michael "Off" Key are all members of an improv group called The Commune. And you're a fucking liar or a hopeless film nerd if you say you've ever heard of any of them except Key before now.
If Birbiglia had gone for off-kilter satire or a Christopher "Spinal Tap" Guest style mockumentary, Don't Think Twice might have had a chance. Instead, the movie comes off more earnest than Jim Varney and is wall-to-wall trite, sad face story beats that kill the comedy quicker than a funeral at a funhouse.
The theatre where The Commune has performed for years has been sold, and the group only has a couple of months before they have nowhere to perform. The group's leader and oldest member is pushing 40, still hasn't made it medium let alone big and serial fucks his 23-year-old improv students. There's an unplanned pregnancy. Key's character gets cast on a non-copyright-infringing version of Saturday Night Live, and his troupe-mates feel more envy than happiness. Someone's dad even gets into a motorcycle accident early on and spends the rest of the movie slowly dying.
Talk about a laugh riot, right? Calling Don't Think Twice a comedy is like saying that Dolly Parton has tiny titties.
I get it. It's supposed to be a bittersweet musing on the difficulty of realizing one's potential, the inherent risk of failure when chasing a dream rather than taking the road more traveled and the loss of youth's sanguinity. But come the fuck on! Couldn't it muse on all those things and still deliver the guffaws promised by the "comedy" part of dramedy?
Watching Key's character's first TV performance, Birbiglia's calls it "Skillful, but not funny." Right back atcha Don't Think Twice.
September 2, 2016