HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Don't Think Twice
HTS Overall Score:72
People often complain about wanting something “fresh” and “different” in Hollywood films. So many blockbusters and rom coms, and horror flicks come and go with the same story line that you become almost worn and bored from the inundation of the same thing over and over again with a different name. Then there are some truly original and different films that seem to come and go without any fanfare, despite the fan base actually ASKING for something different. This is the case with Mike Birbiglia’s dramatic comedy “Don’t Think Twice’. “Don’t Think Twice” was given ENORMOUS critical praise, but managed to be pretty much ignored by the rest of the movie going public and vanished without nary a trace. Thankfully the home video market gives a second life to films like this one, and rightfully so. It’s a tried and true concept of life and growing up, but housed in a completely different box than most other films. In fact this feels less and less like a Hollywood movie as I watch it and more like a documentary with elements of fiction tied in to it. Pieces of it are riveting and completely fascinating, while others are dark and introspective. Asking those tough questions of ourselves when it comes to trying to realize our potential and worth in this crazy ball circling the sun.
The basic premise of “Don’t Think Twice“, revolves around a group of friends who are in an improv comedy group in New York, called the Commune, who have spent the last ten years of their life working together. The ringleader is Miles (Mike Birbiglia). Rounding out the crew is the highly exuberant Jack Mercer (Keegan Michael Key), his girlfriend Sam (Gillian Jacobs), the shy Alison (Kate Micucci), the rich slightly shiftless Lindsay (Tami Sagher), and the Bill (Chris Gethard), who is slowly realizing that he may never make anything of career. While they have worked together for the better part of a decade, this is the year where things come to a head, so to speak. Jack has just gotten an audition for the show “Weekend Live” (an obvious referral to the famous real life “Saturday Night Live”) and actually made it! Great news, right? Well, the rest of the Commune are naturally happy for their friend, but it starts to eat at them when they realize that bright shiny stars may not be in their future.
Miles has tried several times to make it on Weekend Live, but failed each time, and now hopes that with Jack in the door he can wedge himself in there with a little help from his friend. However, things go south when it becomes obvious that no help is going to be coming from Jack, whose head is slightly swollen with the new opportunity. Sam watches her boyfriend get his dream and looks at her own failures and attempted dreams. She had the chops to be on Weekend Live as well and intentionally stayed home for her audition, so now she muses on whether or not she made the right choice. Alison and Lindsay have their own flaws and struggles as well, but they’re less pronounced. Lindsay is living off her parents riches and hasn’t really worked a whole lot, but she has her own dreams and actually applies for a writing position at Weekend live, while Alison has spent the last nine years writing a graphic novel that has just simmered on the back burner due to her own fears. Bill is suffering the most, though. His dad was in an auto accident, his friend has just moved out of the group and gone to bigger and greener pastures, and he realizes that his life isn’t exactly stellar by any means. He works at a grocery store during the day and barely gets by so he can make it to improve night where he can let his inhibitions go. Thoughts of being a proverbial loser and lack of ambition in comparison to his stalwart dad plague the inner psyche of the actor in ways that only can be described as debilitating.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85834[/img]“Don’t Think Twice” is VERY different than your average movie. Director/Writer/Actor Mike Birbiglia has crafted a movie that actually feels like a strange hybrid between a feature film, a documentary, and an actual comedy sketch all in one package. This is what gives the movie its unique charm and why I say that it is totally different than any other film you’ll see this year. The elements of normalcy are there. As the idea and concept of people drifting apart and introspection on your life’s meaning is certainly not unique to the movie at hand. However, it’s the way the film opens up and feels like a glimpse into REAL set of people’s lives is what makes the film so fascination. Birbligia has mentioned in the features that much of the show really IS improv as well. Plot points and major events unfold in a scripted manner, but the actual improve skits were completely unscripted, or changed so much from script that they are completely unrecognizable from the original intent. Supposedly they actually were funnier and more organic than anything that was written as well.
The most visually recognizeable actor in the bunch is improve/skit actor Keegan Michael Key as one of the pivotal characters in the film, and he does a good job as the conflicted Jack. Gillian Jacobs is actually given the meat of the character arc and growth as she comes to terms with being satisfied with her own life and having to understand that things move on and change. No matter if we want them to or not. The rest of the crew, including Mike Birbiligia complement the couple well and we get see a little bit into their lives as well. I’m actually really happy that Mike decided NOT to make himself the most important character, but allowed Miles to blend in with the rest of the cast and give the spotlight to someone else. It worked out really well as it was written and his efforts behind the camera are fantastic.
Rated R for language and some drug use
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85842[/img]The 2.40:1 AVC encoded scope image (a surprising choice for this type of film) looks more than fine for the type of movie it is. Definitely shot on a digital camera, “Don’t Think Twice” has a very documentary style vibe that relies on clean digital imagery and not much else. The blacks are more than acceptable and the contras levels evenly balanced. There is a very neutral color grading with a hint of teal and green added in, but overall the colors appear to be clean and clear without any heavy saturation or major pop to be seen. Fine detail is good, although the image is ever so lightly soft throughout, and really looks a bit grungy at times (something typical documentaries). It’s a solid image and one that I have no real complaints about, but one that is stylistically bare and simplistic on purpose.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=85850[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA mix for “Don’t Think Twice” is not exactly a powerhouse track, but really a simple 3.1 mix with a few instances where the back channels get some activity (usually relegated to a few times where the group go to a restaurant or party scene). The dialog is first and foremost the heavy load lifter here, and with that I have no quibbles. Vocals are crisp and clean and the actors are always intelligible. The front stage has some mild imaging, but 99.9% of the time this is REALLY just the actors talking in an enclosed room or on a stage. There’s a flicker of LFE with the Weekend Live band playing, or during the party where Jack gets his first taste of the big leagues, otherwise it is VERY mild indeed. The track itself is in no way bad, it’s just that there’s only so much you can do with a mix that is very obviously geared for low key dialogue.
• Improv: Deleted Scenes
• The Creative Team
• Don't Think Twice: The Art of Improv
• The Commune
“Don’t Think Twice” is probably one of the most unique and different films that you’ll see all year. It has elements of a traditional story interwoven into a documentary style of film making that actually makes the audience feel as if they’re peering into someone else’s life. I admit that it can be a bit of an acquired taste, but not in an esoteric arthouse style of “acquired”. It’s just very different and very unique. The unstructured storytelling is almost as fluid and spontaneous as actual improve acting itself, and that lends itself to being one of the more enjoyable films I’ve had the pleasure of watching in quite some time. Audio and video aren’t the mainstay of the package, but they get the job done quite well, but sadly the extras are lacking. Something that I would have liked very much considering how Mike Birbiglia was so passionate about this project. Worth a watch.
Starring: Keegan Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia
Directed by: Mike Birbiglia
Written by: Mike Birbiglia
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 92 Minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: December 6th 2016
Buy Don't Think Twice On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: A good Watch
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