It’s rare to find a movie with heart and humor in equal measure: Don’t Think Twice is that rare bird, and it’s one of my favorite films of the summer. It also represents a major leap for comedian, actor and storyteller Mike Birbiglia, who made his debut film Sleepwalk With Me, just a few years ago. It was enjoyable in a quiet way, but this new endeavor is equivalent to his Annie Hall—a coming-of-age for him as a true cinematic storyteller.

Don’t Think Twice is all about a somewhat impoverished New York City improv troupe. Each performer is talented, and has his or her own dreams of fame and success, but when one of them gets that big break—a spot on a network TV series (patterned after Saturday Night Live)—it fractures the bond that has held the group together.

That’s all you need to know, going in: that, and the fact that Birbiglia costars with an exceptionally appealing ensemble led by Keegan-Michael Key, Gillian Jacobs, Chris Gethard, Kate Micucci, and Tami Sagher. If you don’t know these actors already chances are you’ll wind up falling in love with them by the time the movie is over. (There are also some amusing, and pointed, cameos I won’t spoil by revealing.)

What more can I say? I loved this movie and I want everyone I know to rush out and see it, to support indie filmmaking in general and Mike Birbiglia’s work in particular. Don’t think twice about seeing one of the year’s best films.

Incidentally, if you’d like to hear Birbiglia and his producer, This American Life’s Ira Glass, in a freewheeling conversation, check out my podcast from earlier this year at South by Southwest by clicking Podcast #17 HERE.

More recently, costar Kate Micucci (who just earned an Emmy nomination for a song she wrote with partner Riki Lindhome) was a guest and you can hear that episode (#4) HERE.

Leonard Maltin is one of the world’s most respected film critics and historians. He is best known for his widely-used reference work Leonard Maltin’s Movie Guide and its companion volume Leonard Maltin’s Classic Movie Guide, now in its third edition, as well as his thirty-year run on television’s Entertainment Tonight. He teaches at the USC School of Cinematic Arts and appears regularly on Reelz Channel and Turner Classic Movies. His books include The 151 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen, Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animated Cartoons, The Great Movie Comedians, The Disney Films, The Art of the Cinematographer, Movie Comedy Teams, The Great American Broadcast, and Leonard Maltin’s Movie Encyclopedia. He served two terms as President of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, is a voting member of the National Film Registry, and was appointed by the Librarian of Congress to sit on the Board of Directors of the National Film Preservation Foundation. He hosted and co-produced the popular Walt Disney Treasures DVD series and has appeared on innumerable television programs and documentaries. He has been the recipient of awards from the American Society of Cinematographers, the Telluride Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, and San Diego’s Comic-Con International. Perhaps the pinnacle of his career was his appearance in a now-classic episode of South Park. (Or was it Carmela consulting his Movie Guide on an episode of The Sopranos?) He holds court at Follow him on Twitter and Facebook; you can also listen to him on his weekly podcast: Maltin on Movies. — [Artwork by Drew Friedman]

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April 2024