Indie Ogden Film Review: Sleepwalk With Me

Sleepwalk With Me is a 2012 comedy starring Mike Birbiglia, who also directed with Seth Barrish and wrote it with Ira Glass and Seth Barrish.

The movie is Birbiglia’s first cinematic debut, and is also based off of his semi-autobiographical one-man show and book of the same name. Birbiglia plays Matt Pandamiglio, a struggling comedian whose anxiety about his career and relationship with his girlfriend Abby (played by Lauren Ambrose) cause him to sleepwalk and act out his increasingly fantastic dreams.

The movie is Matt telling us this story about earlier in his life, with scenes of present-day Matt speaking to the camera in his car/traveling interspersed with the actual events. Matt’s a struggling comedian who tends bar to pay the bills, has had a relationship with his college girlfriend Abby for eight years, and has a father who is constantly disappointed in him. As Matt’s sister gets engaged, the discussion of marriage comes up between him and Abby. Matt doesn’t exactly see it happening right then, and neither really does Abby, but they have trouble communicating this to each other. That night, Matt sleepwalks for the first time, thinking the hamper in the corner of the room is a jackal.

Matt discusses this with his sister, who gives him the notion that maybe he and Abby should take a break. He decides to tell Abby that night, but when she meets him at work he gets too busy between friends showing up and having to fill in for a few minutes on stage while another comic arrives. We finally see him perform, and he is not good. He does meet an agent though, who ends up getting him a couple gigs. Matt begins traveling around the northeast, and on one of his outings he relates his hesitation about marriage and his relationship problems with another comedian, who suggests he include it in his act. Matt does at his next show, and performs much better than he had before.

He continues touring, while things continue to get strained between him and Abby. All the while, he continues to sleepwalk, which we are entreated to both what he’s dreaming and what’s happening in real life. Birbiglia is an amazing physical comedian, and the pizza pillows and baby flowers are quite the sight. Eventually, Matt ends up cheating on Abby the night before his sister’s wedding. He feels off the next day at the wedding, and after the long day Abby is upset and goes out. She comes home later that night, drunk, and the end up getting engaged.

Matt goes back out on the road, with his jokes that are rooted in his relationship problems getting better while his actual relationship (and thus his sleepwalking) gets worse. It finally comes to a head when Matt ends up jumping out of a two story window while sleepwalking (which actually happened to Birbiglia).

Sleepwalk With Me is very funny, and if your aren’t sold on it yet the trailer below should take care of it. It makes an excellent complement to Art House’s two other very depressing and unsettling movies currently screening, so make sure you head down and check it out. It’s currently playing at Art House Cinema 502 through November 8th, so be sure to check their website for showtimes.

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