Don’t Think Twice [Celluloid Hero]
Don't Think Twice (2016)
For every SNL star that comes out of Second City or Upright Citizens Brigade, there are dozens, thousands, millions of people who think they are hilarious but can't channel their humor into an improv setting, or can't turn improv ability into mainstream success, or are just not funny. "Don't Think Twice" goes into the world of an improv troupe trying to survive and succeed in the world of comedy.
Mike Birbiglia became a favorite underrated comedian of mine when I saw him perform at Monmouth University. He had a few good albums, and ended up being a recurring guest of Ira Glass on NPR. Around this time, Birbigs shifted away from standup and turned to writing. I really liked his first movie, "Sleepwalk With Me", so I was looking forward to his next. The movies are similar in that they're kind of dramas disguised as comedies. It's a serious look at a goofy world; there are obviously plenty of jokes and humorous moments, but it's viewed from a perspective that combines introspection with voyeurism.
The Commune is a group of six comedians. One is an improv teacher, another is a hostess, another is unemployed; it's the typical depiction of the struggling actor, pulling in money to make a living however they can while they pursue their dream of making it big. When one of the Commune actually gets chosen to be on "Weekend Live" (the fictionalized Saturday Night Live), it puts a strain on the rest of the group. They all react in different ways, lashing out or withdrawing, moving beyond the gypsy life or embracing it.
The acting was solid for all six of the leads. Most of them are semi-famous comedians, the sort of faces you recognize from somewhere but can't quite remember; it actually fits perfect for the role of the person who yearns for A-list fame. Birbiglia's writing is sharp, and even if his direction is nothing fancy, it fits the style.
Whenever I watch a movie about artists struggling to succeed, I can't help but apply it to me and my friends. I've been a musician my whole life, never going beyond clubs like The Stone Pony or Starland or Brighton Bar. I have a ton of friends who are musicians, artists, actors...some have achieved a level of success (none nationally-known just yet), others hit a peak then fell off, others just "grew up" and moved on to a "real job", and some continue to try and try. It's the eternal argument of chasing your dream versus being realistic, doing what makes you happy versus just making a paycheck.
On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Don't Think Twice" gets a 7 out of 10.