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DON’T THINK TWICE (director/writer: Mike Birbiglia; cinematographer: Joe Anderson; editor: Geoffrey Richman; music: Roger Neill; cast: Gillian Jacobs (Samantha), Keegan-Michael Key (Jack) Mike Birbiglia (Miles), Kate Micucci (Allison), Tami Sagher (Lindsay), Chris Gethard (Bill), Sondra James (Bonnie), Maggie Kemper (Liz), Erin Darke (Natasha), Richard Masur (Allison’s father), Ben Stiller, Lena Dunham; Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Ira Glass/Miranda Bailey/Amanda Marshall; Film Arcade; 2016)
“Pleasing genial comedy about a struggling New York six-member improv troupe called the Commune.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The title is lifted from a Bob Dylan song. Comedian Mike Birbiglia (“Sleepwalk With Me“) writes, directs and co-stars in this pleasing genial comedy about a struggling New York six-member improv troupe called the Commune. They are all in their thirties, and are frustrated working for low wages and wondering if they will make it as professional comedians. The members of the group include Jack (Keegan-Michael Key), Bill (Chris Gethard), Samantha (Gillian Jacobs), Lindsay (Tami Sagher), Allison Kate Micucci) and Miles (Mike Birbiglia). Most of the troupe need day jobs, and all but one live together in a Brooklyn loft. Miles a decade ago founded the troupe, but is embittered that he is still struggling to survive and must pay the bills by working as an improv teacher. Allison’s an illustrator working to publish a graphic novel. Jack’s a bike messenger. Bill works in a food store. The most talented comedian Samantha works as a waitress, and is Jack’s boyfriend. While the spoiled pothead Lindsay differs from the others because she has rich Upper West Side parents to support her, and she also manages to collect unemployment insurance. Jealousy overcomes the group when one of its members gets a big break and is hired at Weekend Live (much like SNL), after a producer asks a few troupe members to audition for the show. The indie film lets us see, as many films have before, how rocky is the road to success in showbiz and how heart-breaking failure can be. We also take in a few of their entertaining improv skits. Genuine concern for the aging comedians and their endeavor is shown, as they are treated with care and understanding. It’s a film that lets us see from an insider’s perspective the mental anguish most actors must endure before they are recognized in their field and can feel secure. That it goes no further, also shows us its limits.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”