Yesterday didn’t start off great. My near-accident situation stressed me out for most of the day. I wanted to avoid everyone. I planned to go see a movie prior to meeting with a friend for beers. The movie was “Don’t Think Twice.” The film was directed by Mike Birbiglia and produced by Ira Glass (the This American Life guy.) I had been looking forward to it for a while. I was ready to shut everyone out by the time I got to the theater. I wanted to just focus on enjoying one thing instead of stressing out about everything around me.
The movie is about an improv group in New York City. One member of the group gains some success by getting a role on a Saturday Night Live type of program, and how it affects the other members of the group. While it dealt with a funny subject, improv comedy, it wasn’t a particularly funny movie.
I left the movie feeling refreshed. I like a movie if it wipes my emotional slate clean from whatever I was thinking about prior to watching the movie. This was a movie about letting go and moving on, which is really what improv comedy is all about. You’re performing a show that is never going to happen again. The show exists on the stage at that one time. Then you let it go. It seems silly at first, but I think it’s a pretty radical idea at a time when everything is tracked and recorded.
The improv group, called the Commune, is holding on to a lot of things in the midst of change. Keegan-Michael Key’s character, Jack, is on his way out. Their theater is also shutting down. One character’s dad is dying, and another just wants to keep the group alive. I liked this because I think we’ve all felt like this. There are things we know are going to disappear, but we keep holding on to them.
The most gut-punching seen is near the end when Key and Gillian Jacob’s character, who are romantically involved, realize that their lives are going in two radically separate directions. Both get an audition for the show, but Jacobs backs out at the last minute. Key tries frantically to get her back, but she doesn’t want to go. She just wants to do improv comedy where she is. You can’t force your dreams on someone else. Sometimes you just have to let that all go.
The thing that we don’t often realize is that, most of the time, things turn out all right. Things change for the characters, but it’s all pretty much positive. I think that’s a good lesson to take away. As the Bob Dylan song goes, “Don’t think twice, it’s all right.”
I left the movie feeling much better than I did coming in. I thought about the changes I’ve made in my own life. Most all of them have left me all right. It’s okay to let go. It’s okay to move on. It’s okay to just be okay.
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