Successful comic-turned-playwright Mike Birbiglia brings his popular one man show to the big screen with this autobiographical comedy drama about a frustrated stand-up comedian locked in a volatile relationship. Meanwhile, his growing sleepwalking problem becomes much too frequent to ignore.
Film informationGenre: Comedy, Drama
Imagine for a moment that you are a comic. Comics spend a great deal of time laying their lives bare on stage. Virtually everything a stand-up comic does is fodder for their attempts at garnering laughs. Relationships, hang ups, bathroom tribulations, work and many other things are all utilized in finding the perfect joke, right? Comedian Mike Birbiglia has made a film called Sleepwalk With Me in which he lays all of these things bare for the world to see. Though on the surface it would seem to be rather plain, it is anything but. This movie is comedic genius and dramatic to boot.
Birbiglia started sleepwalking several years ago and he began to weave those episodes into his off-Broadway one man show. It was wildly successful. Eventually he tied it into other exploits such as a book and album, and now he has made this feature film. Though an indie film, it feels a bit slicker than usual. The movie is no doubt done on a tight budget, but you don’t feel that. It is solid throughout and nothing is left wanting.
Birbiglia creates another version of himself named Matt Pandamiglio to star in the movie. He is a self-effacing individual that spends plenty of time looking silly throughout the movie. This character appears to be a number of different things, and such are the many layers of Birbiglia. His many flavors shine through here because he is unafraid to show the good and the bad.
He also has a girlfriend that he has been seeing for years, but has yet to tie the knot with. Anyone that has been in a relationship knows the various problems that this can cause, and Birbiglia even delves into this, albeit lightly. One gets the feeling that this problem is one that he is still talking over with his gal long after the credits have run and that is part of the charm. This movie does not stick to traditional rules. It goes wherever it pleases, and we as the viewer just follow along.
It also portrays a young man that is trying to make a living on the comedy circuit. He is getting low paying gigs at colleges, bars and the like but he is unafraid and driven. Perhaps his career is what gets in the way of his commitment to his girl. Whatever the case, he is willing to travel incredible distances without much financial motives in search of the American dream.
Finally, there is the sleepwalking. He is told the seriousness of this problem, and yet he seems to ignore the danger. It again parallels the relationship with his girl. He is straddling the fence with both things, never quite going all in to solve the problem. His sleepwalking is becoming worse, as he is beginning to act out his dreams every single evening. The doctor even warns him that he might harm himself or others during one of these sleepwalking episodes.
How he handles all of these problems is exactly what drives this little film, and it is funny to the core. Sleepwalk With Me is a great movie in that it never takes itself very seriously, and it is never afraid to take some risks. The fact that Birbiglia is willing to put himself out there in this way shows that he is willing to do anything to make it in the world of comedy and entertainment. I think the young man has arrived, if this movie is any indication. It was one of the best films of the year for me so far. I fully intend to see it again.