Don’t Think Twice – Casting Review

Screen Shot 2016-10-04 at 12.54.26 PM“Your twenties are about hope. Your thirties are about how dumb it was to hope.”

There’s a window between the quarter-life crisis and the mid-life crisis that I like to call the 30-something career crisis. This is defined as the moment in your life where you have decided what you are being pulled towards but still don’t know quite how to execute them. These conflicts are prominent in Mike Birbiglia’s comedy Don’t Think Twice, which follows a popular New York City Improv group and catches a glimpse into the world of cattiness and rejection…implementing  a tiny sprinkle of notoriety and success. Starring Gillian Jacobs and Keegan-Michael Key, this flick shines a light on the darkness of comedy.

The six friends in the group, called the Commune, have been working together for years and have a closeness that is endearing, while exemplifying the teasing dynamics of a brother-sister closeness. The film opens with the six preparing for their weekly show, and while the excitement of improv and the jokes are spot on, it is obvious there is a subtle tension and sense of despair amongst them. Mentor of the pack Miles (Mike Birbiglia) holds the group together and continuously laments over his “terrible audition” with the hit show Weekend Live, an obvious take on SNL. After learning that the theater they perform in every week is being sold to make room for high rises and posh coffee shops, the group starts to question where each one will go, and if improv is truly something that can suffice their dream of performing.

The movie gives a great explanation of what improv actually is, with the actors going through silly superstitions and warm-up exercises before a performance. In the opening of the first show we see them explaining to the audience that they will be choosing from various suggestions of topics, and will start by playing off each other to create a scene that has never and will never be performed again. Their generosity and kindness onstage is pleasing to watch, and when Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) seems to upstage the group by performing what seems to be a one-man show, the evident glares from the others shows that there is a growing tension, and perhaps this wasn’t the first time he had pulled this. The actors are natural and really seem like pros who have been doing it for a long time, even though Jacobs had never taken an improv class before prepping for the film and Micucci hadn’t done any improv in years.

Getting to know the group we see the constant struggles of what artists go through to do what they love. The characters are such a great depiction of the generation just trying to figure out how to make money by making art. Allison (Kate Micucci) discusses her graphic novel she’s been working on for years but has yet to finish, while Lindsay (Tami Sagher) is drawing unemployment. When Bill (Chris Gethard) gets new of his father being in an accident, the group comes together to comfort him. During this time Jack receives a phone call from casting at Weekend Live, and is told that both he and his girlfriend Samantha (Gillian Jacobs) got an audition to the show. The group cheers for the notion that one of them may possibly make it to stardom, but it is apparent jealousy is felt among them…some more than others.

From here the movie really focuses on Jack and Samantha. A seemingly perfect couple who love to make each other laugh, so perfect and so complimentary in so many ways. They even share the same career path. Yet when Jack lands a job on Weekend Live and Samantha fails to go to her audition, it is clear the couple have very different opinions on what success means. Samantha is more content with how things are, while Jack is determined to gain massive success and recognition. Sam even has a moment during a performance where she is pretending to be stuck in a well, and while her friends are trying to figure out how to rescue her, she calls up to them “It’s ok! I like the well. I deserve to be in the well. I’m just fine right here, I think I’ll stay.” This symbolizes the fact that no matter how talented someone or capable people might be, sometimes it’s a fear of failure and a fear of success that keeps us from taking that next risky step towards our dream.

This film gives an honest look into the lives of the struggling performer and the family they have created for themselves, while also showing the audience the behind-the-scenes of the kind of guts needed to do improv. The characters are well-developed and you really find yourself rooting for all of them in different ways.  It’s brave in it’s humility and shows us how important it can be to just go into a situation with an open mind and a ‘yes’ kind of attitude.


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