‘Don’t Think Twice’ Captures Drama within Comedy


The cast of ‘Don’t Think Twice’ poses together in the official theatrical release poster. Image source: Don’t Think Twice website.

People living all over the world are constantly surrounded by aspiring creatives who dream of making it big in Hollywood. We see them waiting tables, writing scripts in coffee shops or even tutoring high school students to pay the bills. Or in the case, all the characters in “Don’t Think Twice,” passionately perform every single night in hopes of getting discovered.

Written, directed and produced by Mike Birbiglia, the film focuses on a member of a popular New York City improv troupe who suddenly gets cast on the fictional “Weekend Live,” a show highly similar to that of “Saturday Night Live.”

Starring Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Mike Birbiglia, Kate Micucci, Chris Gethard and Tami Sagher, “Don’t Think Twice” is a thought-provoking film that explores how both success and failure affect friendships in a fresh, sometimes humorous way. Ben Stiller and Lena Dunham both make cameos in the movie.

While “Don’t Think Twice” does not foster obvious laughs, or tears for that matter, this dramedy illuminates different human responses to failure, success, happiness, sadness and jealousy. What is success? Should everyone have the same goal? Is it possible to support both your competitors and friends? What defines happiness?

With a taut runtime of an hour and forty minutes, “Don’t Think Twice” feels like it should be opted for a mini series on Netflix or HBO. By the time the film is over, the audience will still be longing for more. Filled with complex characters, particularly Jack Mercer, portrayed by Keegan-Michael Key, who achieves massive success but feels conflicted about moving on without his friends, “Don’t Think Twice” is not the typical narrative about people attaining their lifelong goal. It is rather a painfully true story about human nature and the strain that careers and ambition often put on relationships.

While Jack is thrilled to be a cast member on a legendary comedy sketch show, he also feels immense sadness in knowing that the rest of his improv group will continue living their same lives — several people in their mid-thirties sharing a cramped apartment, a woman who never stops submitting her comedic cartoons and even Jack’s own drama teacher who has been left behind in Jack’s whirlwind of success.

After all of his hard work, ambition and dedication, the film interestingly chooses not to overemphasize Jack’s quick rise to superstardom. In fact, “Don’t Think Twice” ends with all of the characters supporting each other after a tragedy strikes in one of their families, displaying the unfortunate reality that often, when one person triumphs, another does not.

“Don’t Think Twice” is a bittersweet story that will continue to engage audiences around the country. The film does propel the message to give up on your wildest hopes and dreams but rather to follow wherever your talent, passion and a little bit of luck may take you. The film is rated R for language and some drug use and is recommended for ages 16+. In Los Angeles, the film is currently showing at The Landmark, Sundance Sunset Cinema and Laemmle’s Monica Film Center.

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