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Don't Think Twice (2016)
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 12/6/2016
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 11/28/2016
For most of my life, I've been told that I'm funny. (Visitors to this website may disagree, but that is beside the point.) This is mainly due to the fact that (it's been pointed out that) I'm quickwitted and I often say the last thing that anyone would say in a given situation. Given that, one would think that I would be a fan of improvisational humor AKA improv, but I'm not. While I truly appreciate people who can think on their feet (Robin Williams, Stephen Colbert), I've always found the "Name a place. Now, name an occupation" template of improv to be both odd and confining. But, one can't argue with the fact that improv troupes have given us some of our best comedic actors. It was with that last thought in mind that I approached Don't Think Twice.
Don't Think Twice introduces us to a New York City improv group called "The Commune". The group -- Miles (Mike Bribiglia), Sam (Gillian Jacobs), Jack (Keegan Michael-Key), Allison (Kate Micucci), Lindsay (Tami Sagher), and Bill (Chris Gethard) -- have been together for quite some time and they perform on a regular basis (although they have side jobs). They are all quite close, which Jack and Sam being a couple. For all of them, the ultimate dream is to make it onto the fabled television show "Weekend Live". When Jack and Sam are offered auditions for the show, it creates ripples in this tight-knit troupe.
The film comes from Mike Bribiglia, who began his career as a stand-up comic and has since segued into acting and filmmaking. (Many viewers will recognize him from his stint on Orange is the New Black.) Bribiglia's stand-up often comes from a place of self-depreciation with a surprising dose of honesty, as he's not afraid to share his own short-comings. Given that Bribiglia wrote and directed Don't Think Twice (along with acting in it), I had an idea of what the tone might be. With the film's subject matter, I also had some expectations of what the story would be like. I had hoped that it would truly take us into the world of improv to explore what life is like for these individuals and, more importantly, what drives them to pursue this form of comedy. Also, I wanted an inside look at the fight to get onto Saturday Night Live, as the movie makes no effort to disguise what "Weekend Live" really is.
And Don't Think Twice was exactly what I expected it to be...and it was incredibly unsatisfying. Again, I'm somewhat familiar with Bribiglia's style of comedy and I've found him to be funny in the past. And yet, Don't Think Twice is remarkably unfunny. Ostensibly, both the improv performance scenes and the back-stage personal moments should yield some laughs, but I barely managed a chuckle during the film. The improv performances are shockingly dull and the other moments skew too far into drama to be funny. With that, Bribiglia has certainly leaned towards the darker side of his comedy here. The film is not necessarily dark, but it paints a bleak portrait of what life is like for someone who spends their time waiting for their big break. So, this part somewhat delves into the lives of these performers, but Bribiglia only scratches the surface here. We only get thumbnail sketches of the characters here, and we learn nothing about Allison and Lindsday. The assumption would be that these are naturally funny people or perhaps theater folks who were drawn to improv, but the film plays this close to the vest. It's not shocking when Jack and Sam's opportunity creates jealousy in the group, especially from Miles, who founded The Commune, but there are no insider secrets to be had here. If you've ever watched any of the many Saturday Night Live anniversary specials, then you know as much as this movie is willing to teach us. Assuming what we see here is true, what I did learn, given how hit-or-miss Saturday Night Live can be, is that maybe Lorne Michaels should seek out actors and not improv veterans.
Which brings me back to my dislike for improv. The scenes where the audience not only took the time to come see improv, much less found it amusing, simply didn't resonate with me personally. But, I was able to look past that given that I like most of the cast and, as noted, hoped to get an insider's look at the industry. The film almost did that, but Bribiglia never dares to go deep at all, and the entire film is predictable and pedestrian. Maybe they should have disregarded the script and simply made things up as they went along.
Don't Think Twice should have taken more requests from the audience on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no overt grain and no defects from the source materials. The colors look good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The depth is acceptable and the image is never soft. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The audience applause in the improv theater brings us notable surround sound, as well as some good stereo effects which highlight calls coming from the sides of the screen. The music sounds good, but I didn't note any significant subwoofer effects.
The Don't Think Twice Blu-ray Disc contains a few extra features. "The Creative Team" (5 minutes) focuses mainly on Bribiglia, as his fellow cast members share their thoughts on his approach as a director. We also hear how the crew gelled during the production. "The Art of Improv" (3 minutes) has Bribiglia and the cast describing the essence of improv and how this was approached in the film. "The Commune" (7 minutes) profiles each character in the troupe. The Disc contains a reel of DELETED SCENES which run about 3 minutes. These are composed of extra moments of The Commune performing their improv.
Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long