Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On the Big Screen in Illinois

We really didn’t expect Don’t Think Twice to be an Illinois film. We planned to watch it in an Illinois theater, but we assumed it would be purely a New York film through and through. It’s the story of an improv group in New York who want to be on a Saturday Night Live type of show, and SNL is quintessentially NYC.

Yet as we watched this film in a movie theater in Naperville, Illinois, one of the characters, Miles (played by the film’s writer and director, Mike Birbiglia) tells the other players in his comedy troupe that one of his old friends is visiting, a high school friend from Naperville, Illinois. There are even scenes where Miles goes to see his friend in Naperville. So we ended up seeing what was -- at least partially  -- an Illinois film.
It really shouldn’t have been surprising to find Illinois connections in the film. Second City (in Chicago) is often credited as being the birthplace of improvisational comedy. During the film, characters quote improvisational guru Del Close, a key player in Second City and other Chicago improv groups.

It is odd that Close is quoted so frequently with no explanation of who he was; the film expects viewers to have a great deal of knowledge about American comedy history. Another strange element is that, though the film is set in the present day, there seems to be a bit of a time warp aspect at work. One of the members of the comedy team, Samantha (played by Community's Gillian Jacobs) concentrates on her impressions of Katherine Hepburn and Gina Rowlands. One would think working on an impression of one of the Kardashians would make more sense, but…

We do see one church in the film, during a funeral for the father of one of the troupe’s members. The church seems to be a warm and comforting place with a caring and compassionate Catholic priest. It would do well in the Movie Church Steeple Ratings.

We saw the film in an AMC theater which had most of the annoying features one would find in the Regal Theater chain. TV commercials are run during the feature film. The employees are rather haphazard about closing theater doors after films begin, and it was rather difficult to get the attention of the employee working the snack bar (one of the two people we saw working during the weekday matinee we attended). But the film was projected competently, which is really what matters.

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