***1/2 stars (out of four)
Most people experience a moment in their lives where they realize their youthful dreams are not going to come true. They aren’t going to play for the Saints, they aren’t going to be a rock star, they aren’t going to write the great American novel. It’s a feeling that’s beautifully captured in the new dramedy Don’t Think Twice.
Written and directed by Mike Birbiglia, the film tells the story of a moderately successful improv comedy troupe. They receive news that their theater space will be closing soon, but there’s a ray of hope: a scout from a late night comedy show (obviously patterned on Saturday Night Live) will attend one of their final performances. Shortly thereafter, one of the group members (Keegan-Michael Key) lands a role on the show.
The rest of the troupe have conflicting emotions. They’re happy for their friend, but they’re also mostly jealous (except for Gillian Jacobs, Key’s girlfriend in the group who doesn’t view improv as a stepping stone to a bigger career) or sad about the fact that their own dreams are unlikely to come true. The script also correctly notes that many people who don’t “make it” in a creative field are often pretty good at what they do, but they’re either just not quite good enough or missed out on a lucky break. It also intelligently depicts how a person’s life and relationships change once fame enters the equation.
Funny and moving, Don’t Think Twice is the best film of what has been a surprisingly strong August so far.