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Film review: ‘Don’t Think Twice’

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Stand-up comedian and director Mike Birbiglia packs his cast with funny people.

Three and a half stars

Don't Think Twice Mike Birbiglia, Gillian Jacobs, Keegan-Michael Key. Directed by Mike Birbiglia. Rated R. Opens Friday at Regal Village Square.

Improv comedy performers take their art form very seriously, and so does writer-director Mike Birbiglia in his movie Don’t Think Twice. Stand-up comedian Birbiglia (Sleepwalk With Me) packs his cast with funny people, but Don’t Think Twice is more interested in complex emotions than in making jokes. That’s not to say it isn’t funny, especially in the scenes featuring performances by New York City improv troupe The Commune (played by Birbiglia, Gillian Jacobs, Keegan-Michael Key, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci and Tami Sagher), but most of the movie takes place offstage, where the group’s members are dealing with some heavy regrets and life changes. Now in their 30s, they’ve reached a point of wondering whether to give up on their dreams of comedy stardom, just as one member finally gets hired for a Saturday Night Live-like sketch-comedy show.

That’s the catalyst for a lot of soul-searching and angst, but Birbiglia depicts it in a nicely understated manner, always focusing on the genuine camaraderie among the characters and never forgetting the humor. It’s a true ensemble piece, but Jacobs stands out as a woman realizing that being an artist doesn’t have to mean constantly pushing for greater success or recognition. The movie draws its audience in with the promise of laughs, and then reaches into deeper and more rewarding emotional territory from there.

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