I’ll preface this review by saying that I’ve spoken with several people who enjoyed Sleepwalk With Me, though every one of those people were already die-hard fans of either star/co-writer/co-director Mike Mike Birbiglia or co-writer/producer/valuable advertising angle Ira Glass. So maybe a degree of familiarity is necessary, that happens sometimes, I wouldn’t be nearly as big of a fan as, say, Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy if I wasn’t already a big fan of its creators. More troublesome though is that this film falls into a current trend in independent writer/director/stars in their early 30s who feel the need to exercise their rather commonplace demons on the big screen. Expect this trend to be mentioned in Cinedelphia reviews at least two more times this month. So it’s safe to say that I didn’t care for this film at all and the odds are against you unless you’re already a fan of Birbiglia’s sincere, reality-based comedy or the NPR antics of Glass…
Matt (Birbiglia) is a non-threatening every[funny]man who, presumably like his real-life alter ego, works out his issues through standup comedy (a concept seen recently in the QFest selection Nate & Margaret). He delivers his jokes with a wavering hesitancy that makes him seem like a modest guy, the type that you wouldn’t mind calling a friend. His girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose) is pressuring him into marriage, his parents are pressuring him to get a real job, and his fears are manifest themselves in his dreams, which in turn manifest themselves in his titular sleeping disorder. And the affliction, of course, lends itself well to both absurdist nightmares and awkward awakenings. The film has a loose format (still images, wall-breaking) and does have a few moments of inspired surrealism (see: pizza pillow) and cameos from a host of reliably entertaining faces (David Wain, Kristen Schaal, Marc Maron, Hannibal Buress, that guy from Girls), but even at a mere 75 minutes in length (sans credits) this thing is really tough to get through. Maybe I’m just tired of seeing people whine about their parents or girlfriends. Or maybe I’m just tired of watching comedies that aren’t the least bit humorous. You’ll sleepwalk your way right out of the theater! Zing!
Sleepwalk With Me opens today at the Ritz at the Bourse.
Author: Eric Bresler
Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of Cinedelphia.com whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.