A new indie film, "Sleepwalk With Me," takes a semi-autobiographical look at the life and numerous problems of a struggling stand-up comic. NY1's Neil Rosen filed the following review.
A new indie film, "Sleepwalk With Me," looks at, among other things, one man's struggle to make it in the world of stand-up comedy. Real life stand-up Mike Birbiglia is telling the tale of his salad days as a comic.
When we first see Mike, who's called Matt in the film, he's in a long-term relationship with Abby, played by Lauren Ambrose. But Matt's afraid to commit to marriage, which both his family and Abby are desperately pressuring him to do.
As he drives to small venues to perform his act, which at first is simply terrible, he hones his skills. Stale generic jokes are replaced by revealing stories about his fear of getting married and relationship woes. It's this intimate side of his life that connects with audiences and soon he's not only getting laughs, but he's being booked into clubs all over the place.
In addition to relationship difficulties, Matt has an another big problem, He sleepwalks, sometimes quite dangerously. As the stress of his career and the hounding by relatives to get married pile on, his sleepwalking worsens.
As a movie that examines what life is like as a comic who's trying to find his voice and a look at life on the road, the movie is very interesting and gets it right. Cameos by other real-life comics, like Marc Maron, who offers him stand-up advice, are quite good.
But where the movie fails to really connect is when it focuses on Matt's dealings with his dysfunctional family and his relationship with his girlfriend. Plus the sleepwalking segments are kind of jarring, creepy and out-of-sync with the rest of the film.
Birbiglia, at times, is an endearing sort of fellow. His stand-up act, or what's presented of it in the movie, is just okay. It's semi-autobiographical and before it was a film, he used the material in a one-man show off-Broadway.
For aficionados of stand-up comedy and a look at what it's like starting out, on the road, it's intriguing. Sadly, too often all the other stuff concerning his life off the road misses the mark.
Neil Rosen's Big Apple Rating: 2.5 Apples