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Sleepwalk With Me– Movie Review

Submitted by on August 25, 2012 – 10:21 am2 Comments

I can honestly say Sleepwalk With Me is the best movie about sleep disorders and stand-up comedy I’ve ever seen. As a movie about growing into adulthood and navigating relationships, Sleepwalk isn’t as strong as falls in to cliches; but there is plenty of heart and laughs to keep the film moving.

Adapted from comedian Mike Birbiglia‘s one-man show, book, and stand-up album of the same name, Sleepwalk With Me tells the true story of Birbiglia’s struggles with adulthood and relationships. Matt Pandamiglio’s (a thinly fictionalized Birbiglia) comedy career flounders but then finally starts to take off, while his girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose) questions whether he is serious about their eight-year relationship. The stress appears to trigger sleepwalking (REM behavior disorder, actually, which is worse, because it means he acts out his dreams in real life), which grows more and more dangerous.

Birbiglia’s character is iffy about the direction of his relationship with “Abby” from the very beginning; it’s already become a matter of convenience more than passion, so we’re never really rooting for the couple. But at it’s heart, this is really a movie about the man-child growing up and finding meaningful direction (a very familiar trope lately), more than it is about a romantic relationship.

The film began life as an episode of NPR’s This American Life, and was produced and co-written by TAL’s Ira Glass. And in fact, Sleepwalk is a lot like a movie version of an NPR story: to-the-camera commentary, fanciful dream sequences, performance footage, and slice-of-life scenes all skillfully interwoven to provide comedy and narrative at the same time. There’s a lot of documentaries about comedy, a lot of performance films of stand-up, a few narrative movies about stand-up comedy (where the comedian is usually played by a non-stand-up actor), and possibly some movies based on stand-up material (though that’s usually more for sitcoms); but to my knowledge, they’ve never been brought together like this before.

Did you see Sleepwalk With Me? What did you think?

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