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Comedian Mike Birbiglia stars as Matt Pandamiglio in Sleepwalk With Me, which appears to be the autobiographical tale of his life up until this current point. The title of the film stems from Birbiglia's REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, which caused him to fall into deep, deep sleeps, often resulting in him sleepwalking and crossing into danger's way. During one of his shows in Walla Walla, Washington, Birbiglia, disoriented and asleep, jumped from the second-story window of his motel room and narrowly avoided accidental suicide by having thirty-three stitches put in his legs.
Sleepwalk With Me chronicles not only that chapter in Birbiglia's life, but the chapters and events leading up to his career as a comedian and a motivational speaker. He has achieved off-Broadway success for years now, doing two one man shows and a comedy special. In this film, he stars as Matt Pandamiglio, who also narrates the film, making us come full circle like in his one man shows. He is a directionless twentysomething, stuck in an eight year relationship with the charming but bland Abby (Lauren Ambrose) with no plans to marry, and struggling to find stable work as is. What Matt really aspires to do is be a comedian, but his material on stage is slim and his delivery is jittery and brim-full of anxiety. He winds up performing at nearby bars, attracting nothing but hecklers and a mountain of criticism. Upon acquiring an agent from one of his close friends, out of pure desperation, he winds up driving miles away to introduce lip-syncing acts at a college campus. The gig pays about as much as he will for gas up there. When he does get laughs, they come at the expense of his relationship, and the audience seems to be awake and responsive when Matt goes into the details and tribulations that come with a long-term relationship. He states how his girlfriend told him the thing she's most afraid of is losing him to something she can't control. When asking Matt what he is most afraid of he collectively replies, "bears." Mike Birbiglia is a character of true charisma, who could definitely have a long-running career in not only one man performances, but realistic slice-of-life style comedy. The issues he proposes in his own life to his audiences are easily relatable, and his insights are witty and provide us with much of the same warmness we feel when crowded around a group of friends, sharing opinions and ideas. When Matt talks about meeting Abby and falling in what he calls "love," he describes the world "love" as an unlimited amount of the most wonderful things in the world, for him, subjectively, pizza and ice cream. "Love is a mountain of pizza flavored ice cream...and delusion" he then tells us.
Sleepwalk With Me is a wonderful, wholesome comedy mainly because it shows the slow, methodical progression of a struggling comedian battling with his girlfriend, his fear of commitment, the lack of support from his parents, and most of all, his lack of confidence combating with his extreme drive. His only wish in the world it seems is to be able to be good at his passion, and it becomes increasingly hard when his moral support proportions are dwindling and his own life isn't too picture perfect either. But one can turn that around to a positive and say it provides the man with more viable material. Sure as hell beats tired puns on stage at a hometown bar, wouldn't you say? Starring: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, and Cristin Milioti. Directed by: Mike Birbiglia.
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