BFI London Film Festival: Don’t Think Twice

Don’t Think Twice
Directed by Mike Birbiglia
Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher
LFF Screening October 14th, 15th, 16th, 2016

by Joanna Orland

New York improv troupe The Commune have been together for over a decade, but now one of its members is about to find success away from the group.  When Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) lands a coveted role on Saturday Night Live style sketch show Weekend Live, each of the gang begins to question their destiny and even desire for comedic success.

Don’t Think Twice isn’t just ‘that film about improv’ – it’s a well-written (ironically) and very smart comedy about different stages in our adult lives, in particular when it comes to chasing our dreams and redefining them.  It’s also a film about relationships between friends, family and partners and how they evolve as we evolve.  These are straightforward relatable themes that have been made into a million movies before this one, but this movie does it better than most.

The cast is perfectly weighted with Keegan-Michael Key as Jack the breakout star, Gillian Jacobs as Samantha his girlfriend who is happy with where she is in her life, and Mike Birbiglia as Miles the resentful improv teacher.  Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher round out the ensemble in more supporting roles, which still portray very well-rounded and defined characters.  Sparked by Jack’s newfound success, each character is going on a similar journey – at a crossroads in life to confront their dreams of making it big in comedy.  Even Jack who’s achieved his dream is going through the same conflicting feelings as he misses his friends and feels like an outcast among them, tempted to ditch it all to go back to how the way things were.

All of the different angles of this dynamic are explored masterfully by director Mike Birbiglia.  No dream or rejection of ‘the dream’ is portrayed as better than the other.  Each character must make a decision on what comes next for them, no decision being necessarily the right one, only the one that suits them now.   The group dynamic goes through a turbulent time as each figures out who they are now and how they fit within the group.  A conundrum that befalls all creative people at some stage in their lives regarding their work and art, and one that befalls most people in general as they find themselves in their 20’s, and re-examine where they are in their 30’s, and perhaps again in their 40’s for the mid-life crisis. 

Don’t Think Twice is not a film about improv. It’s a funny and moving film about a universally human experience.




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