Sleepwalk With Me [Blu-ray]
I donít know if Iím the best audience for Sleepwalk With Me, mainly because I donít find comedian, Mike Birbiglia, funny. To be honest, and maybe this makes me sound ignorant, but Iíd never even heard of Mike Birbiglia before this film, nor did I know anything about his Off-Broadway show of the same name, which apparently got raves across the board. That said, I really appreciate this movie.
Sleepwalk With Me is not ďhilarious,Ē as the back of the box says, and Birbigliaís character (Is it a character?) is sometimes infuriatingly clueless. But the idea of a man who has a sleepwalking disorder so bad that it actually causes him to jump out a window is beyond fascinating. I just wish there were real laughs, here, instead of chuckles to go along with it. That would have allowed me to give the film an extra star.
The film follows Birbiglia as himself during his rise as a professional comedian. Along the way, we see Birbigliaís relationship with his girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose) deteriorate. We also get to see the highlight of the film, Birbigilaís REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, which gets worse and worse the more anxious he gets about his career and the future of his relationship. It all builds to the aforementioned climax of him hurling himself out of a window while heís sleepwalking. (And donít get upset about me spoiling anything. It says he does all that right on the front of the box).
Moreover, the shots of Birbiglia dreaming are fascinating in an almost The Nightmare on Elm Street level. Sometimes, itís obvious that heís having a dream, like when heís running through a wheat field, which is a stark contrast from the scene before it. But other times, like when heís eating a pizza around his neck while heís with a girl, you almost wonder, ďIs this a dream, or is this just a really weird date?Ē It keeps you guessing what weird position Birbiglia is going to wake up in when itís all over. This kind of plot stuff I love.
But again, the laughs just arenít there, at least for me. In the beginning of the film, his comedy is woefully unfunny, but thatís on purpose to show that he was really going nowhere in his career. But when his comedy starts taking off as he travels cross-country to different college campuses, I still donít find him funny. He gets more confident in his delivery, but his punch lines are still terrible. Thankfully, we donít see much of his stand-up and get more focus on the story. But then, the story isnít that funny, either. I enjoyed watching Sleepwalk With Me, for the most part, but I didnít really laugh. Maybe thatís just me. Even if you donít find this movie funny, itís at least enjoyable on a certain level. Give it a try if youíre interested in the topic of sleepwalking. And defenestration.
Since Iím not a fan of Birbigliaís brand of humor, I didnít find the commentary on the special features funny, either, but there are quite a few of them. The main draw is probably the Q&A with This American Lifeís Ira Glass and the almighty Joss Whedon, who acts as a moderator. What bothers me about the Q&A, though, is that nobody really sounds comfortable--not until later on in the Q&A anyway, which is quite long. Itís actually a little uncomfortable to watch in the beginning when you can tell theyíre all trying really hard to get laughs, just like the film itself. Maybe it was intentional?
The other draw is the commentary, which features both Birbiglia and Ira Glass. I never really listened to This American Life that much, only in bits and pieces, but from what Iíve heard, this commentary track doesnít sound that much different from Glassí popular radio show. The commentary is very matter-of-fact and conversational. I think I might like it more than the movie itself.
The rest of the special features are kind of blah. The outtakes arenít interesting and go on for far too long. The ďMaking OfĒ featurette is everything you would expect from a featurette of that ilk and nothing more. And the behind-the-scenes shorts donít offer anything tremendously interesting. They just focus on people talking about their roles in the film. Thatís it. The trailer is the last special feature, and itís one of those trailers that ruins all the good jokes in the film. Honestly, if you just want to see the comedic side of this film, watch the trailer and spare yourself the movie. But then, youíd be missing out on a pretty interesting tale. My advice: See the movie, and stay for the special features. Theyíre worth one watch.
Reviewed By: Rich Knight
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