Is sleep-talking considered bad?
Matt Pandamiglio (Mike Birbiglia), is at a crossroads in his life. He works as a bartender at the Comedy Club and rarely ever gets the shot to tune his voice, he has a sleeping-disorder that causes him to move around at night in a daze of sleep, and can’t commit to his girl-friend of 8 years (Lauren Ambrose). Things begin to change for Matt, however, and he soon finds himself on the road, doing gigs, making money, finding new friends, and finding peace with his life. However, not everything’s so good between him and his girl and once that idea of getting married pops-up, life isn’t so grand and peaceful for dear old Matt anymore.
Mike Birbiglia is a pretty damn funny comedian. The guy has timing, the guy’s honest, the guy knows when and how to make fun of himself, and best of all: he feels like the average, everyday guy, like you or me could get up on stage and start saying the shit he says and get an equal-amount of laughter and applause. It’s what works for him so well and has kept him going on and and on for all of these days and that’s why I thought a flick where he tells his own story, his own way, and with him starring in it, that I was in for a sure treat. However, I think it’s time for me and Mike to stick to stand-up. Only for a little bit, though.
No matter what type of tone or genre this movie is mixing around with, Birbiglia always keeps it funny. The dream sequences are hilarious because they allow him to really unleash his wild side and get utterly, and terribly ridiculous with the whole thang, but that’s not the best-part of this movie or it’s comedy-aspect. What makes this movie so funny is how Birbiglia is able to not only poke jokes at the goofballs around him that seem like walking-caricatures of Birbiglia’s own mind, but also poke jokes at himself. That’s what I’ve always loved about the dude’s stand-up and it was so great to see him take that one-step further in this movie and let loose on himself, even he’s visibly at his lowest.
But that doesn’t matter, because yes, he is a comedian and he’s supposed to be funny. So yeah, good for him for being funny, aka, doing the job he’s supposed to do. Despite being funny, Birbiglia is able to bring-out something within this material that I didn’t think was at all possible: drama. The whole movie plays-out like a shaggy dog comedy, where it’s this guy trying to work his way up the comedy-ladder, make people laugh, get gigs, get money, find meaning in life, but in a funny way, but in the back of it’s mind, there’s always this downright serious and heartbreaking drama at the center-fold. The whole plot with Birbiglia and his girlfriend of 8 years who seem to obviously love each other and seem to obviously know everything about one another, but still can’t find a way to get married, really sets this flick up for some terribly honest and compelling material. Material that I didn’t think this movie had the balls of juggling with, and in a way: I was right.
Before I jump into what this movie messed-up on, I just want to say that with the obvious intentions and motivations in Birbiglia’s mind, I thought that he achieved something that wasn’t possible: getting more than just comedy, out of a story of a comic. He makes it more than just a story about living your dream and making something out of yourself, but making it about how you need to have direction, no matter how old or young you are. You need to really wake up, smell the cauliflower, and realize that your shit needs to get together, way before you even hit the ripe-age of 40, or more. It may come off as a shock to hear this from a 19-year-old d-bag who has yet to get his life on track (except for this fancy blog), but it’s what I garnered out of this story and what I think Birbiglia hit very well. If the guy can do anything, it’s that he can bring more emotion and depth out of a comedy than most comedy-directors working today. No, not you Judd Apatow. You’re fine right where you are, bud.
Now, where I think Birbiglia messes up on is the love-story between him and his girlfriend. I will say that the movie takes a different-approach to this relationship than most rom-coms do, but that’s not saying much considering how lazy it seems to get sometimes. For example, whenever you feel like the movie is going to focus on how hard it is for Matt to not see his girl, to be on the road non-stop, and not know what to do when they’re supposed to get freakin’ married, it just focuses in on another, wacky, and wild dream-sequence that may be funny and may have happened, but only slows down the momentum of the actual story at-hand. I give credit to Birbiglia for at least including this story at all, whereas other directors would have probably poo-pooed it and had it played-out like a lame, blind date, but I wish there was just more effort on this dude’s part. I mean, it is HIS story, told from HIMSELF, so why not give it a little more feeling and a little more attachment, rather than just showing people how insane you can make dream-sequences? Sorry, Mike. Didn’t mean to get all mad, but come on!
That’s what also brings me onto my next point: his actual girlfriend in the movie. Lauren Ambrose, god bless her soul, is a revelation in this movie because she is smart, sassy, understanding, honest, and very loving in the way that all gal-pals should be around this time, but the movie doesn’t give her enough credit. It’s so damn obvious that she’s the right pick for him because she’s always cool with him, always down to Earth, and always able to be there and help him when he needs it the most, so why the hell wouldn’t you want to pick that? I get that maybe it has something to do a little bit with the fact that the cat may be hitting his mid-life crisis and may not know what to do with his life right about now, so therefore adding on the factor of marriage would only cause more confusion, but for a simple-minded dude like myself, I would think that the right and best pick would be right there for me: choose her. You can do all the stand-up, you can make all the jokes you want, but this is the girl you should be with and I never understood why there was any problem’s there in the first-place. Once again, it’s probably one of those things I don’t seem to get because I haven’t lived life like him or haven’t gotten to that age, but I have made mistakes and I have been confused in life, so I definitely feel like I have some sort of leg to stand on here. And if I don’t, I don’t care because I know that I would be more than happy to have Lauren Ambrose as my girl, any day of the week baby.
Despite all of my thrashing and trashing of his movie and what is essentially, his life-story in an-hour-and-25-minute movie, I still have to say that Mike Birbiglia kept me going with this movie and his presence is one of the more-welcoming ones I have seen in recent-time, especially committed by a comedian. Like his stand-up, Birbiglia is always funny and able to poke fun at himself and his life’s misfortunes. However, the guy gets a chance to act here and show what he’s feeling at these exact-moments, and his over-the-top narration keeps us in the mind of the guy and has us hear and believe all of the thoughts that are racing through it. Birbiglia is a simple guy that likes to keep things down on home-ground, but when it comes to this movie and he has to go for the deeper-meaning in life and in love: he’s more than up-to-the-challenge and that shows a lot of balls for any may, especially a comedian. Hope to see you soon, Mike.
Consensus: Mike Birbiglia’s honesty and brutal-depictions of real-life happenings keep Sleepwalk With Me grounded in-reality, even when it goes crazy with his dreams, but feels like it loses itself when it comes to making a simple, comedic-story more important than it truly has to be, and that’s more about the romantic-aspect than the actual means and themes of this story. Give me 10 more years, and maybe I’ll have a different view on this one, but for now, I’m sticking with it.
7 / 10 = Rental!!