Sleepwalk with Me

Directed By: Mike Birbiglia

Starring: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, and Cristin Millioti

I used to sleepwalk.  When I was a kid, I would get up in the middle of the night and just do stuff.  Regardless of whatever the hell I was doing at that time of night, somebody usually would wake up and take notice.  Often times, my mom would hear me rumbling through the house and just tell me to go back to bed.  As an obedient sleepwalker, I would just do it.  The next morning, I would have no recollection of the event in question when my mother mentioned it.  I did that throughout my youth.  While I would like to think I've stopped sleepwalking, I'm a grown man now.  Nobody's telling me to go back to bed if I get up at night.  There's no evidence to prove otherwise though.  I share this story with you because it gives me a little perspective in understanding what plagues Matt Pandamiglio in Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk with Me.

Matt (Birbiglia) is an aspiring comedian who has recently moved into an apartment with Abby (Lauren Ambrose), his girlfriend of eight years.  That being said, he's really failed in both his personal and professional lives.  Though he does small acts at a local New York comedy club, he primarily works at this club as a bartender.  He eventually meets a manager (Sondra James) who handles stand-up comics.  She gets him a few gigs and sends him on the road despite the fact that he's not funny and that his act sucks. 

Meanwhile, Matt still hasn't popped the big question about marriage even after dating Abby for the better part of a decade.  His parents' (James Rebhorn and Carol Kane) 40-year marriage really hasn't inspired him.  When Matt's sister Janet (Cristin Millioti) gets engaged and married, the m-word becomes a sour point for Matt and Abby.  It doesn't help that Matt is now on the road trying to make his comedic dreams a reality or that Matt's battling a sleep disorder.  When he sleepwalks, Matt actually tries to act out his dreams as if they're happening.

Sleepwalk with Me is a charming little indie.  It really gives a fun look at those who are afflicted with interesting sleep disorders.  Birbiglia's Matt is hunting jackals, competing in DustBuster Olympics, and eating pizza pillows all in his dreams.  It's definitely hilarious to watch him try to make these crazy dreams realities while he’s sleepwalking.  That being said, it's a movie with a lot of dry humor that doesn't connect with a broader audience.  Sleepwalk with Me may just be a little too dry.  There are plenty of jokes from Birbiglia that are just not funny.  These awkwardly unfunny moments keep the film from fully realizing its potential.

The film gives us a world of fun, colorful characters that keep the laughs coming most of the time.  As the main character Matt, Mike Birbiglia obviously brings plenty of laughs both on and off stage.  However, Birbiglia is actually at his best when portraying the future version of Matt who helps guide this tale of his life.  In this part of his role, Birbiglia is not playing a bum trying to figure himself out.  He's just a guy talking smack about his past. 

Beyond Matt, the other really fun, colorful characters are Gary and Linda Pandamiglio, who are portrayed by James Rebhorn and Carol Kane respectively.  As Matt's dad Gary, Rebhorn tells it like it is.  He's at his best when he's getting on his son's case or talking about his 40 long years of marriage.  He’s us in the movie, a healthy dose of reality.  As Matt's mom Linda, Kane brings a refreshingly silly, oddball character to the film.  Kane just has impeccable comedic timing as she chimes in at the most random moments with utter yet comical nonsense.

Sleepwalk with Me is a decent indie comedy, but it's definitely got some flaws.  It's not as funny as it could have been because of some bad jokes.  While I definitely enjoyed it, I have to recommend you grab a couple of glasses of Chardonnay with this one.  Sleepwalk with Me gets a 0.06% rating.