This time, I wanted to watch a comedy I hadn’t seen previously. So, I went through my list and pulled out this movie. It’s a story about a improv comedy troupe and what happens when one of them gets pulled into the big time.
It is not a comedy.
There are few funny parts in it – mostly from the improv theatre scenes and when Keegan-Michael Key makes a side comment (“That looks like a baby bird.”). With the cast it holds up, including one of my favorite stand-up comedians and one half of Garfunkel and Oates, you would think this would be a laugh a minute.
This is a rather serious piece and groups and how a change of fortune can change everything. We have the bitter teacher who watches his student go on to fame and fortune, but gets left behind. We have the scared status-quo girl and the procrastinating artist (that one I understand). We’ve got both parental archetypes on display: the absent parents who just cut the check and the concerned ‘have you got something steady?’ father. The break-out star however, remains true to his roots when most other movies would have him cutting and running even before the words “I got the part” even finished getting out of his mouth. There are other things that happen to the characters and it’s generally a happy ending with everyone growing in their own way.
It’s not what I was expecting.
I have two such movies in my collection: Don’t Think Twice and Trust Me. It’s not hard to make me laugh, and I enjoy comedies more than I enjoy drama (not that you could see that by my movie list). The first movie is a really good example of the classic definition of comedy by Aristotle: a genre of literature containing humorous events or dialogue that ends favorably for the protagonists. Don’t Think Twice does this, to Mike Birbiglia’s credit, and it works. Trust Me, which I will do later, doesn’t.
Is this a bad film? No. I don’t know what criteria Apple uses when deciding if a film is a comedy, drama or documentary; but there are some holes in that algorithm. Don’t Think Twice is better categorized as a dramatic piece that has comedic elements to it. None of the performances are wasted – especially Gillian Jacob’s Samantha who has the most growth in the film. It was a pleasant break from the gag-a-second comedies I usually watch, but definitely deserves to viewed as a serious drama.