Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Okay, I Won't...

...think twice about giving this review.   And, since you insisted, don't be surprised if it's not the glowing accolade you want.

Or something like that.

"Don't Think Twice" is a mess of a movie that has you expecting hilarity and then receiving large doses of bitterness and anger.   I mean, it's all about these members of a NYC-based improv group.   Think the Groundlings or Second City.  Well, as soon as you watch the first five minutes, you know you are in trouble. 

Because you see this group on stage performing and they are woefully not funny.  Now, I'm not sure that wasn't the design of film maker and co-star Mike Birbiglia.   Maybe they're supposed to suck and that's part of the intent.   But, since they are not even slightly amusing, that makes everything which follows totally unrealistic.

You see, like in the Groundlings and Second City, improv actors like this are all gearing for the same thing.   To get a job either performing or writing on that great Saturday sketch comedy show we all know and usually detest.  Yes, SNL. In this film, it's called Weekend Live, but they do little to hide that it is SNL.   There are guest hosts like Ben Stiller and Lena Dunham.   The announcer sounds just like the late Don Pardo.  And the show runner depicted is unmistakably an unflattering caricature of Lorne Michaels.   I am guessing that Birbiglia has been spurned in real life by SNL because there's a lot of venom spewing here.

Unbelievably, one member of the troupe gets an audition with SNL, I mean, Weekend Live and gets the job.   This upsets the rest of the improv folks and they react with varying degrees of meanness and envy.  In one respect, you can't blame them because Jack, as played unconvincingly by Keegan-Michael Key, is the worst of the bunch.   Indeed, Key himself is also the worst actor of the bunch on the screen, so it's a double whammy.   Jack gets the gig because of his wonderful Barack Obama impression and that certainly is a device that will render this film even more untimely and uninteresting come January 20, 2017.

But, Jack achieves stardom and the rest of the movie is one big pity party whose invitation you wish got lost in the mail.  The characters are so unsavory and unlikable that you actually wish the projectionist would play the film at double speed so you can get the hell out of there even sooner.  

But, at its core, it's the improv work you see them doing that totally upends the whole movie.   How can you get invested in people trying to achieve show business stardom when they are just so plain untalented and...more specifically...unfunny?

I will add that "Don't Think Twice" is yet another movie that has gotten some very positive critical notices.   Plus there was laughter and even a little applause from the crowd I saw it with.   Most of that audience appeared to be young actors.  Hey, maybe you have to be closer to the subject matter to get it.   But, one more time, I'd care a lot more about the members of an improv group if they could just...well...do good improv.

Plus I'm just one of those people who thinks that actors are better when there is a writer behind them.   Ahem.

LEN'S RATING:  One star.

Dinner last night:  Chopped kale salad with bacon and cherry tomatoes.

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