Don't Think Twice

Aug 25, 2016

That's life!

Don’t Think Twice

Grade:  A-

Director: Mike Birbiglia (Sleepwalk with Me)

Screenplay: Birbiglia

Cast: Keegan-Michael Key (Keanu), Gillian Jacobs (Community)

Rating: R

Runtime: 1 hr 32 min

by John DeSando

“I think for anyone - male or female - in improv, the biggest thing to get over is the fear. I think every improviser has that.” Rachel Dratch

Don't  Think Twice makes you think more than  once about not just the enormous demands of comedy, including fear of failure, but also about doing anything for a profession that  may give you little to no compensation other than the joy of doing what you love and are good at.

More than anything else, this comedy makes a poignant comment on the irony of talented people making it while other talents struggle never to be recognized.  Miles (writer-director Mile Birbiglia) feels it painfully as he sees Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) win a spot on Weekend Live (no doubt, Saturday Night Live) while Miles and his other colleagues labor in the lesser venue of  NYC  on the improv team, The Commune.

As the title of their improv group suggests, their work is communal, depending on an effort for which individual spotlights have no place.  Ironically, Jack wins the Weekend Live job partially by standing out doing a solo routine even though his colleagues warned him against it.

Don't Think Twice does an effective job of showing the inherent contradictions of communal support and individual talent.  In the matter of a romance between Jack and Sam (Gillian Jacobs), the tensions between their emerging rewards for their talent and sacrifice are subtly displayed in their loving routines and their personal love.

You would not be surprised to know how difficult it would be to determine which bits in the movie are improv and which are rehearsed, so good are the performers. Even that puzzle supports a theme about the intersection of reality and artifice, a benign clash between the creative improvisation and the spontaneity of life itself. Both bring their rewards and disappointments.

Here is a comedy with touches of real life--hey, I think that's what life itself is all about.

John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at