January 28, 2012
Sundance Review: Sleepwalk With Me
Sometimes, all you need is a good comedy. I picked up tickets to Sleepwalk With Me sort of my accident. A woman had a bunch of different tickets to a bunch of different movies, and hawked this one off to me. And I'm very glad she did. Sleepwalk With Me is a very funny and occasionally touching film about stand-up, marriage, and sleep disorders. Like a good night's rest, it leaves you feeling satiated and happy.
Matt is a struggling stnad-up comedian who is enjoying his 8+ year relationship with his girlfriend Abby. When is sister goes the distance and gets married, it's all to clear that Abby wants to follow them, but Matt isn't so sure. When he gets a break and starts doing stand-up gigs around the country, his relationship is strained further. Throw in a sleeping disorder that sees him acting out his dreams as he experiences them, and it's safe to say that Matt has issues.
It's nothing new, but its done very well. The script by Mike Birbiglia, who also directed and starred, and three other dudes is consistently clever, but always finds time for some more serious stuff. With the help of a talented cast that includes Lauren Ambrose, James Rebhorn, and a delightful Carol Kane, Birbiglia offers up a surprisingly intimate look at a relationship tested by things you wouldn't expect.
Did I mention it's hilarious? A good amount of the time is devoted to Birbiglia, as Matt, talking directly to the camera, which is always amusing, and provides great and biting commentary on the events that have transpired. The dialogue is just as good, with zingers coming a mile a minute.
The serious stuff on the other hand isn't handled quite as well. The relationship drama between Matt and his girlfriend is just the same, rote thing we've seen countless times, where a couple finally asks the question, "Where are we going with this?" And not enough is done to make it stand out from it. Indeed, the times where we feel the most sympathy for Matt are the times when he is sleepwalking. Those at least display a different and darker side of the material that wouldn't have been seen otherwise.
But, if you're looking for solid laughs and some decent drama, you could do a lot worse than Sleepwalk With Me. This is a well written, well acted piece of comedy that strives to achieve something a bit more substantial. It's doesn't quite make it, but we appreciate the effort, and enjoy the film all the more for it.