First Hit: At times funny, occasionally awkward, and might have been better as a documentary.
The way this film begins it almost feels like a documentary, and there are segments that were documentary like, however it isn’t.
The Commune is a small group of improvisational comedians and this film follows them as they do performances that feel very authentic. Prior to each show the group riffs with each other, hug and reaffirm they have each other’s back, and touch a lucky charm before going on stage.
The theater is small and usually full and mostly because they are good and the seats are cheap. It is easy to see that this group loves improv and they are committed to each other. They barely make any money and live mostly together in shared housing and although one of the team might have access to family money, they take other jobs to keep themselves in food.
Their goal is to get on a television program called “Weekend Live” which is a takeoff of “Saturday Night Live”. Being on this program would mean fame and a regular, much larger, paycheck.
There is some competition among the group to get noticed by the Weekend Live staff. Some in the group are more talented, some are better bit writers, and some are more driven. However, there are others who just want to be in the cocoon of the group because it is where they fit.
The group consists of Miles (Mike Birbiglia) who is a teacher of improve at a school, Samantha (Gillian Jacobs) who loves the group and has a poor sense of time (in some ways), Allison (Kate Micucci) is one of the more introspective and talented member, Lindsay (Tami Sagher) is one who has access to money, but loves the bohemian lifestyle, Jack (Keegan-Michael Key) who wants fame the most and puts himself in place to make it happen, and Bill (Chris Gethard) who seems out of place, yet is a critical member.
The story is about how they react and support each other in finding a new place to create their form of art, how they act when someone gets noticed, and what they learn about themselves along the way.
Birbiglia wrote, directed and has a primary role in this film. Overall, his character is one that has to learn a lot about who he is and in this vein he was good. Jacobs is strong as the person who is clear about her wants, but has difficulty expressing them. Micucci, played a little like the character she has played on “Big Bang Theory”, which is the person unsure of her skills. Sagher is good as the girl who is trying to make her own way although the team knows her family has money. Gethard is good as the guy in the background who gets to express himself on stage. Key is very good as the big personality and the one who aggressively wants to make it big. He does well at showing his compassion for the others and engaging in his success. The writing was at times strong and other times seemed unclear of direction.
Overall: This film didn’t seem quite focused enough to know where its strengths were.