“Who the hell is Mike Birbiglia?” I asked my silky friend Javy when he suggested going to see Sleepwalk with Me at the Music Box. After embracing the power of Google I gained some insight. Birbiglia is a comedian who’s had three best- selling comedy records, one of which is entitled Sleepwalk with Me. This turned into an off-Broadway show and a novel bearing the same title. Intrigued, I agreed to see the movie (which is written, directed and stars Birbiglia) and enjoyed all eighty minutes. Well, seventy-seven minutes, I had to pee once.
Sleepwalk with Me is a tale of struggling comedian Matt Pandamiglio and his strained eight year relationship with his girlfriend, Abby (Lauren Ambrose). The stress results in Matt violently acting out his dreams, aka sleepwalking (duh). His sleepwalking spells get progressively worse as the film evolves.
The film takes off when Matt finally grows some balls and takes any gig he can find. His first show is a lip syncing contest in Utica, New York. This scene is absolutely hilarious and I thought it was extra funny because my grandparents live in Utica, and it’s definitely the butthole of New York (sorry guys).
Matt hits the road and is having the time of his life performing at tiny clubs and colleges. The next thing you know he’s sleepwalking and launches himself out of a window at a La Quinta Inn. Obviously there is more to the story, but I won’t bore you with a synopsis, that’s what IMDB is for.
Some critics have been a bit harsh, for example, Wendy Widom (your textbook piece of bitch candy) from the Huffington Post called Sleepwalk with Me a woman’s worst nightmare because of Abby’s character. Give me a break, Widom. Yes, Abby wants marriage and children and is complacent when it comes to Matt’s aloof behavior, but the movie isn’t about Abby’s character. The movie, in my opinion, is about Matt growing as a person and as a comedian. Their relationship and her character is the catalyst which provides Matt with a new hysterical comedic voice.
This movie isn’t a pulse-pounding thrill ride or a thought provoking mind bender. It’s a fun story that will have you laughing throughout. There are also some delightful cameos made by fellow comedians Kristen Schall (30 Rock) and Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart).
I have been listening to Birbiglia’s stand-up on Pandora since I’ve seen the movie and it’s pretty much the same; funny, self-deprecating and relatable. Obviously, if you’re a fan of Birbiglia, you will enjoy this movie. Even if you don’t know who the hell he is, you will enjoy this movie. You should also give some love to the producer and North Western graduate, Ira Glass (This American Life) and WBEZ Chicago for assisting in the making of the film. It’s playing at the Music Box Theater and at Landmark Century Cinema. Check it out!
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