'Sleepwalk With Me' Review: Comedian Makes Career Crisis a Laughing Matter
Matt (Mike Birbiglia) tells us right from the start of "Sleepwalk with Me" that this is a "true story" and no matter how many times you may think it's fake, it's definitely not.
Matt and his girlfriend Abby (Lauren Ambrose) have been together for eight years and have just now made the decision to move in together. Matt is a struggling comedian, working part-time as a bartender at the local restaurant and Abby is way too good for him. Not only does she support his career as a stand-up comedian, she rarely pushes him to do anything else. Although she desperately wants to get married, Matt wants to achieve his goal as a working comic, first.
The problem with Matt is that his jokes are terrible. Groan-inducing, unbelievably terrible. When a fellow comic suggests he use his actual life more as a basis for his jokes, Matt begins to talk about his family, Abby and his sleepwalking and all of a sudden, he's getting laughs - and gigs.
A little while after Matt and Abby move in together, Matt's sleepwalking becomes a serious problem. He's dreams are so vivid that he acts them out during his sleep, to the point where he begins to accidentally hurt himself. His father (James Rebhorn) tries to convince him to see a therapist, before he ends up in a hospital.
The dream sequences have a surreal quality to them, and you can definitely tell the difference between Matt's dream-life and reality in the film. Even though the dreams are amusing and fun to watch, it shows how serious such disorders can be. In one particular scene, Matt ejects himself out of a two-story hotel window and even when he wakes up, he's still in a dream-like state.
Birbiglia has starred in three Comedy Central specials and has released three albums with Comedy Central Records, one of which was titled, "Sleepwalk With Me Live." The comedian, playwright and now, filmmaker co-wrote and directed the film, which he adapted from his memoir. The film marks his first fictional feature debut and is loosely based on his own life. The movie has plenty of witty dialogue that is laugh-out-loud funny, especially in the dream sequences.
"Sleepwalk" is certainly a showcase for the talented Birbiglia, but he isn't the only one that gave a strong performance. Ambrose, (most recognizable for "Six Feet Under" or this year's "Wanderlust") is such an underrated actress and the film gives her a lot to play with as Matt's frustrated girlfriend.
"Sleepwalk With Me" not only proves that Birbiglia is naturally hilarious, but that he's an excellent screenwriter and director, too.