Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters New ‘Ant-Man’ Photos; Movie May Include More Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Over 30 New 'Jurassic World' Photos, Plus 2 New Clips & Lots Of New TV Spots Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' Matt Damon Goes Interstellar Again In New Pics From Ridley Scott's 'The Martian' First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ First Look: Matt Damon As An Astronaut In Ridley Scott’s ‘The Martian’ Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Cannes Review: Justin Kurzel's 'Macbeth' Starring Michael Fassbender & Marion Cotillard Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Watch: Incredible Vintage Footage Of Audience Reactions To 'The Exorcist' In 1973 Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Cannes Review: Gaspar Noé's Hardcore And Softhearted 'Love' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Here's The Character Backstory For Doof aka Guitar Flamethrower Dude In 'Mad Max: Fury Road' Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem Cannes Review: Hou Hsiao-Hsien's 'The Assassin' Is An Epic Visual Poem The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever The 10 Most Controversial Cannes Films Ever Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel Roger Deakins To Shoot Denis Villeneuve's 'Blade Runner' Sequel More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement More NSFW Posters For Gaspar Noe's 3D 'Love' Plus The Official Director's Statement Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Cannes: Watch A Three Way Makeout In The First Clip From Gaspar Noe’s 3D ‘Love’ Plus New NSFW Image Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" Simon Pegg Worries That Adults Obsessed With Comics & Sci-Fi Have Become "Infantilized By Our Own Taste" George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like George Miller Says 'Interstellar' Came Close To What His Version Of 'Contact' Would've Been Like New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' New NSFW, Extremely Graphic, Adults-Only Poster For Gaspar Noe's 'Love' The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season 10 Movies Booed At Cannes 10 Movies Booed At Cannes All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More

SXSW '12 Review: 'Sleepwalk With Me' Observes The Life Of A Comedian & Commitmentphobe

The Playlist By William Goss | The Playlist March 15, 2012 at 11:57AM

Yes, everything that follows is true, our narrator assures us from the start after asking everyone to go ahead and turn off their cell phones. The validity of it all has been questioned before, and he simply wants to cut our skepticism off at the pass. However, since this is Mike Birbiglia playing a version of himself (named in the film as “Matt Pandamiglio”), replicating stories of his own life in a film based on his one-man show and identically titled book, "Sleepwalk With Me," there remains an inevitable degree of distance between seeing Matt go through the travails of becoming a stand-up comedian and a suitable boyfriend, and laughing at Mike’s actual experiences. Don’t worry: it’s a bit less through-the-looking-glass than it reads on paper.
0
Sleepwalk  With Me

Yes, everything that follows is true, our narrator assures us from the start after asking everyone to go ahead and turn off their cell phones. The validity of it all has been questioned before, and he simply wants to cut our skepticism off at the pass. However, since this is Mike Birbiglia playing a version of himself (named in the film as “Matt Pandamiglio”), replicating stories of his own life in a film based on his one-man show and identically titled book, "Sleepwalk With Me," there remains an inevitable degree of distance between seeing Matt go through the travails of becoming a stand-up comedian and a suitable boyfriend, and laughing at Mike’s actual experiences. Don’t worry: it’s a bit less through-the-looking-glass than it reads on paper.

That’s the beauty of stand-up, though, that an audience readily accepts not mere anecdotes, but an exceptionally amusing interpretation of them. As such, we roll with Mike playing Matt as he enjoys the company of long-time partner Abby (Lauren Ambrose); begrudgingly accepts the advice of parents Frank (James Rebhorn) and Linda (Carol Kane); and splits his mounting worries between his relationship, a fledgling funnyman career and a burgeoning sleepwalking disorder.

It’s essentially a feature-length investigation of post-collegiate ennui, featuring re-enactments within itself of Matt’s vividly troublesome dreams: winning invented competitions for cleaning the house; enjoying a neck pillow made of pizza; leaping through actual second-floor windows. Familiar comedians populate the hotel bars and college shows with which Matt initially makes do, while the author of actual sleep disorder texts puts in an appearance to narrate his own audiobook in the passenger seat of our mildly delusional protagonist’s car. Such gestures brings to mind Woody Allen’s legendary Marshall McLuhan aside in "Annie Hall," and Birbiglia’s schlubby schtick certainly evokes that comedian in no small part, complete with fourth-wall-breaking touches of self-deprecation. (Matt reminds us in the midst of potential infidelity: “Remember, you’re supposed to be on my side.”)

Is twenty-something uncertainty especially revelatory material? Not necessarily, but Birbiglia’s droll, clumsy delivery works just as well on screen as it does on stage. Better yet, the film (co-written and co-produced by NPR’s Ira Glass, among others) marks his writing and directorial debut, and the extent to which his stand-up improves and his insecurities worsen as Matt begins effectively confessing his worst relationship fears to total strangers, seems to stem from a very real place of ambivalence and ambition. At the risk of shortchanging the entire, perfectly fine supporting cast, the whole endeavor rests (and well) on Birbiglia’s perpetually shrugging shoulders without reeking of other self-consuming vanity projects.

In between gigs and dreams gone equally awry, "Sleepwalk With Me" quietly goes a long way towards rationalizing how, and why, a seemingly shy guy would be compelled to entertain the anonymous masses even as he struggles with one-on-one connection and commitment. Fans of Birbiglia should be easily entertained, and with a little luck, it will only earn this particular loveable neurotic a few more of those. [B]

This article is related to: SXSW Film Festival, Review


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


E-Mail Updates