Don’t Think Twice, Do See Twice
By: Connor Lenahan
Mike Birbiglia, the brilliant comedian behind Sleepwalk with Me and My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, was in Boston tonight to screen his new movie. Don’t Think Twice is a bitingly relatable movie about an improv troupe and the strains that one member becoming successful, without the rest, has. Very few people I know are professional comedians specializing in improv, but damn near everyone anyone knows will be able to relate to this sensation.
Birbiglia is a natural storyteller – his comedy specials and first film (Sleepwalk with Me was adapted from his comedy set) show that clear as day – and Don’t Think Twice is a delightful little movie that hits all of its marks. So often movies will be plagued down by having a “statement” or bending over backwards to tell its “message”. This movie never felt this way.
In fact, it felt eerily realistic. Which is a great pair with the fact the movie has some of the strongest comedy in any movie from the last few years. Again, most big comedy movies are based around the big laugh moments that are utterly impossible to actually happen. But awkwardly making jokes at inopportune times because your life is spent trying to be funny off the cuff? That lands.
This isn’t a transcendent movie – don’t be looking for it to clean up at the Oscars or anything – but it does signify something delightful. For one, this movie comes along at the peak of the time when franchise films and cinematic universes are throwing marketing budgets richer than European GDPs around. But while Jeff Goldblum and Thor’s Brother fight aliens in the Independence Day sequel no one wanted, Mike Birbiglia is quickly finding a strong voice as a writer and director.
A few years ago this was one of the most uniquely hilarious stand ups working – framing his shows as something better tailored to a Broadway stage than a comedy club. Now he’s making sweet, ambitious, and relatable films with great success. This isn’t surprising given his skill set, but it’s a breath of fresh air at the most necessary moment.
This all goes without mentioning the deep main cast. Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard, Tami Sagher, and Birbiglia all make up the central comedy group. There’s a great amount of balance for nearly every character that there’s no “main” character. Keegan-Michael Key, showing dramatic range that completely changed my opinion of him as an actor, is the closest to the lead, but Jacobs, Birbiglia, and Gethard all have distinct plot lines. Micucci’s and Sagher’s are more condensed, but manage to hit each time they are on screen, with Micucci dropping arguably the funniest line in the film about Ghost Abe Lincoln.
During a post film Q&A Birbiglia talked about how it’s a very inauthentic feel for comedies to be exclusively funny and dramas exclusively serious. That’s not how life works. Because he elected to have some genuinely cutting lines between the laughs you earn the authenticity of the film. My girlfriend, Laura LaBrecque, cried at the film’s finale, and it made sense why – no small feat.
I will be the first to admit that I would be in Birbiglia’s camp no matter what, but this film exceeded even my own expectations. With a second film showing a growing confidence as a director and cinematic writer, Mike Birbiglia is doing all the right things. We have a very gifted filmmaker on our hands. Don’t Think Twice, but do go see it twice.
Don’t Think Twice comes out on August 5th.