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Director: Mike Birbiglia
Stars: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Cristin Milioti
What they say: Bartender and aspiring stand-up comic Matt (Birbiglia) is at an impasse in his career and relationship. Feeling pressure from his family and girlfriend Abby, (Lauren Ambrose) to get married after dating for eight years, Matt takes his modest act on the road to clear his head and jumpstart his career. He steadily improves his set, but the new material only increases his doubts about his future with Abby.
Adding to his distress is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that leads him to act out his dreams- fleeing jackals, winning an Olympic medal for Dustbustering, avoiding a missile strike, the usual things.
What I say: Hmm…what am I doing? Why should I review this film? On this site?
We talk about superheroes, and sci-fi stuff. Not Indy dramadies. Further more, the main man of the hour, Avengers Director Joss Whedon, himself says he wants us to avoid this film. (Click here to see his video statement.)
But you know what, Sleepwalk With Me’s director/co-writer/star Mike Birbiglia and producer/co-writer Ira Glass (This American Life) were willing to fight back. To fight back the man who made the highest grossing movie of the year? The balls they had! (Click here to see their response video to Whedon’s video)
Anyone who’s got the gusto to take Whedon/Marvel on is worth a look, right? And you should, because Sleepwalk With Me is a great film.
The film is autobiographical, as it tells the story of how Mike Birbiglia handled his intense sleeping disorder and his long term relationship. Based on his one man play, Birbiglia crafted a film that wonderfully balances the humor and the drama. It feels so effortless clever in how it allows us to understand Matt (the character that Mike plays) and really get into his headspace. It would be very easy to accidentally have us dislike Matt, what with the some of the choices he makes throughout the film. Thankfully, the smart writing from Birbiglia (along with co-writers Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia and Seth Barrish) never falters, and I remained invested with Matt’s story…even when he messes up.
The cast is great. Birbiglia is hilarious and touching as Matt, and Lauren Ambrose is real, honest and loveable as Abby, Matt’s girlfriend. Carol Kane plays Matt’s mom, and her performance reminds you how great she is as a performer.
The film has a nice stylized look thanks to great work to director of photography Adam Beckman.
The Blu Ray contains some great and informative special features. A really good “Making of” featurette that goes into the history of the film and it’s production as well as several short Behind the Scenes videos that steems from subjects such as the how the visuals where created and to video anecdotes about the production itself (the featurette about a baby that was used on the film was pretty funny.)
The Blu Ray also has a FANTASTIC commentary from Mike Birbiglia and Ira Glass. The commentary is a great listen, as they go into how much the film changed from the first cut ,their lessons as first time filmmakers and much much more.
Included as well is a Q&A with Birbiglia and Glass that was recorded a the Writers Guild Foundation which was moderated by…well I’ll be damned…Joss Whedon. Looks like they got along after all.
As you can tell, I love the film and this Blu Ray release is pretty great. Sleepwalk With Me is deeply real, and very very funny.
The film is available on Blu Ray and DVD December 18th, 2012.