Aug. 9 2016 04:13 PM

Mike Birbiglia’s ensemble comedy leads our rundown of movies screening around town

Don't Think Twice

During many improv performances, the comedians in Don't Think Twice feed off each other's words, facial expressions and tone. They make a connection with the audience as a group, crafting chemistry out of rhythm and collaboration. This dynamic doesn't leave much room for individual comic grandstanding. Mike Birbiglia's ensemble comedy addresses the time period when this fragile artistic equilibrium begins to break apart for a specific group of friends.

Members of The Commune entertain a small but devoted crowd of attendees at an independent theater space. They all seem happy in the limelight, but offstage each is dealing with doubts about their talent, finances and future in show business.

Samantha (Gillian Jacobs) and Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) are talented impersonators caught up in a romantic relationship. Miles (Birbiglia) is the elder statesman who claims he was "inches" from landing a gig with Weekend Live, a Saturday Night Live-style show. Allison (Kate Micucci), Bill (Chris Gethard), and Lindsay (Tami Sagher) round out the crew, each unique in their comic delivery and demeanor.

Don't Think Twice, which opens for a two-week run at the Ken Cinema on Friday, Aug. 12, embraces these characters warts and all. Collective jealousy erupts after Jack obtains a new level of mainstream success, fracturing the trust so elemental in their shared art form. Factions break off to regroup, feelings are hurt and friendships are tested.

This disappointment comes from a place of experience. Birbiglia has lived these scenarios during his time as a standup comic, and he deftly maneuvers the awkwardness characters feel being tugged by competing emotions.

While Don't Think Twice shies away from the dark and demented impulses of standup (we have Louie for that), it exposes the uncomfortable realization that change is a necessary evil when it comes to creating great art.


Anthropoid: Czechoslovakian operatives infiltrate the Nazi ranks to assassinate SS officer Reinhard Heydrich in this thriller based on real events.

Don’t Think Twice: Faced with an uncertain artistic future, a group of improv comedians grapple with disappointment, death and one member’s sudden success. Opens Friday, Aug. 12, at the Ken Cinema for a two-week run.

Hell or High Water: Two brothers (Chris Pine and Ben Foster) rob a string of banks in West Texas in order to pay off the debilitating loan that threatens their family farm. Jeff Bridges leads a pair of Texas Rangers who give chase.

El Ray del Once: In director Daniel Burman’s comedy, Ariel returns to Buenos Aires to reconnect with her father who has founded a charity in the heart of the city’s Jewish district. Screens through Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

Equity: Anna Gunn plays a senior investment banker who is threatened with financial scandal and must untangle a web of corruption to clear her name.

Florence Foster Jenkins: A New York heiress decides to chase her dream of becoming an opera singer despite her lack of talent. Stars Meryl Streep and Hugh Grant.

Operation Chromite: Liam Neeson headlines as Gen. McArthur in this war film that follows a unit of Korean soldiers who partake in an important mission during the crucial Battle of Incheon.

Pete’s Dragon: The classic 1970s Disney film about a young orphan and his best friend/dragon Elliot gets the inevitable reboot treatment.

Sausage Party: Featuring a star-studded cast of voice talents, this vulgar comedy follows a sausage that learns the hard truth behind his purpose in life.

The Land: Inner city teens get caught up in a drug deal gone bad that will change their lives forever. Screens through Thursday, Aug. 18, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.

One time only

Stand by Me: Four friends growing up in the 1950s go on an adventure into the woods in search of a dead body. Screens at 8 p.m. tonight, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.

Notting Hill: A humble bookstore owner (Hugh Grant) has his life turned upside down when a Hollywood star (Julia Roberts) walks into his life. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Aug. 11 and 12, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.

Indiscreet: Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman dazzle as wealthy socialites whose relationship grows more intimate even as secrets threaten to rip them apart. Screens at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.

The Room: Experience Tommy Wiseau’s disaster of a film on the big screen. You won’t regret it! Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13, at the Ken Cinema.

Predator: Get to the chopper! Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 16, at the Arclight La Jolla Cinemas.

Bridesmaids: Kristin Wiig is always a bridesmaid and never a bride in Paul Feig’s hilarious comedy that also features great performances from Melissa McCarthy and Rose Byrne. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 17, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.


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