I've been a fan of Mike Birbiglia since I saw him perform at Monmouth University, around 2004 if memory serves me. He has a subdued style, not a loud zany comic, but rather a quiet, self-deprecating tone. He has ventured beyond regular stand-up into a regular gig reading stories on NPR, which he collected into an Off-Broadway play, which he then turned into a feature film.

Birbiglia essentially plays himself, perhaps just a slightly exaggerated version. The characters in his life are all real, from his parents to his long-time girlfriend, played by a favorite of mine, Lauren Ambrose. Mike has been with his girlfriend for eight years, without being officially married or engaged. She wanted to sing, but ended up becoming a vocal coach. He wanted to be a comedian, but ended up being a bartender in a comedy club, doing occasional gigs to fill in. A fortuitous turn gives Mike a shot at some real work, and he ends up touring around the northeast, ranging from Massachusetts and Vermont to Philadelphia and Washington, DC.

The stress of the lifestyle leads to Mike having vivid dreams that lead to sleepwalking. It leads to a bunch of great comedic moments, along with some sad and awkward ones. It's definitely not a straight comedy; the drama and emotion are well-balanced.

Birbiglia could be considered a "poor man's Woody Allen". I'm a huge fan of Allen, which I think is what made me like Birbiglia. He has the same sort of delivery, a lot of the jokes I could see Allen doing, and he even takes the time to talk to the camera like most Allen movies.

This was a really honest movie, one that showed how people can be honest or dishonest with everyone, from friends to family to significant others and even themselves. We all want to be happy, but second to that, we all want to not hurt others. Sometimes the desire to not make other people mad leaves us in situations we don't enjoy, and sometimes we all need to step back and figure out what it is we want and need to make ourselves whole.



On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, "Sleepwalk With Me" gets a 8 out of 10.


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