Like a lot of improv comedy, this film will be understood by few, and will be waved off by many. If you like comedies, you may not necessarily be into this movie. But if you appreciate comedy, you will.
Writer-director Mike Birbiglia, who also plays Miles in the film, constructs a story that will speak to artists everywhere who truly have a passion for what they do. The struggle with sacrificing the art’s purity to make money. Choosing between making it a career or keeping it just a passion. Or even being afraid to “make it” because it would mean stepping away from what’s comfortable.
Miles is one of six members of an improv comedy troupe. He’s the leader, in a sense, but the film tries to make all of them the main protagonists.
When one of the members, Jack, played by Keegan-Michael Key, makes it onto Weekend Live (the film universe’s equivalent to Saturday Night Live), tensions flare up. Miles is bitter that he’s never made it, while Jack’s girlfriend, Samantha, has a shot at making it, but doesn’t want it. It’s all very American Graffiti-esque. These people are all in the same situation wanting a different end result. But not really, if you look closely.
It’s a conflict most of us are familiar with, yet probably not on this level. It’s masked well, since the subject matter is so esoteric, but anyone who’s ever felt some sort of fear of change or jealousy based on entitlement should be able to relate.
The whole film has a very fresh feel to it. The camera moves in a way where it seems as though we’re watching a documentary or a reality show. But this also says a lot about the brilliant performances of the entire cast.
Although there are six leads, it creates depth right away without making it seem rushed. And it saves some for the remainder of the movie.
At times, the film slows down to take in the emotion of what’s going on. About halfway through, it starts shying away from the uninhibited humor of the first act. But the cast and script are good enough to keep us into it. However, the real genius comes from Birbiglia’s direction and choosing which things to use for the final cut. The subtle jokes here and there are what make this film so likable.
Go into this film expecting something a bit different. But be open to relating to it. Pound for pound, it’s one of the best of the year so far.