Sundance – Sleep Walk with Me

A few years back, my BFF went through a pretty serious breakup. Before the couple’s demise, they purchased tickets to go see Dane Cook in Las Vegas.  My buddy got custody of these tickets, and I ended replacing her on the trip.  In our defense, I’d like to point out that Dane Cook was the ex’s favorite comedian.  On the five-hour drive to Vegas, he popped in Mike Birbiglia’s Two Drink Mike, and I was hooked.  It was better than the Dane Cook show.  Admittedly, that’s probably not hard to do, but Two Drink Mike was hilarious.  Birbiglia released several more comedy albums, and I loved them all.  So, imagine my surprise when I realize right in the middle of Sundance, that he had a movie there.  Not only that, he co-wrote it with Ira Glass, my very favorite NPR host.  If you ever listen to This American Life, you’ve probably heard Birbiglia on there several times.  Birbig’s was tweeting he would be at the showing in a few hours from the moment I found out about the movie at all!  My excitement was palpable, I quickly called my BFF and we wait-listed that bitch like a boss.  Despite being super sold out, we both got tickets from scalpers at the last-minute.

The name Sleep Walk with Me refers to many things, my favorite is a terrible sleep disorder that the comedian has.  Once he dreamt he his hotel room was the target of a missile attack, so he jumped out of the second story window in his dream, and in real life, something we get to witness acted out on the film.  Now he has to take a strong sleeping pill and be zipped up in a sleeping bag while wearing mittens so he can’t unzip the bag in the night.  Sleep Walk tells the story of a long, but doomed relationship with his college girlfriend (played by Six Feet Under‘s Lauren Ambrose), the terrible idea of his proposal to her, and meanwhile, the establishment of his beginning career in the comedy world.

Birbiglia’s stand up is self-deprecating, honest, and charming.  He manages to take what may seem simple and mundane, and make it seem wildly entertaining.  There are often even serious notes of sadness (this is heard most often when he appears on The Moth Radio Hour).  All of this is seen in the film, and done well.  Where Birbiglia may tend to go away from a chronological narrative, it seems Ira Glass was right there to put it all into place, and it did feel slightly episodic, like a film version of an episode of This American Life.  Birbiglia even has some acting talent.  My one complaint, and this may not even be a valid one, is that I was so familiar with all of his work, that there wasn’t anything really new.  I had heard the jokes, and the stories, I knew exactly what happened when he jumped out of that window.  In this aspect, it was a bit disappointing, but I ate it up anyway.

★★★½

Comments
4 Responses to “Sundance – Sleep Walk with Me”
  1. Jessica says:

    Yay for Sundance reviews. And yay for Birbiglia and Glass together!
    Jessica´s last blog post ..May 2012 Summation

  2. BFF says:

    As the BFF of this story, I agree on all accounts. Birbigs was first a really funny comedian, then he displayed some serious story telling abilities with Glass on NPR. Then he wrote a poignant autobiographical script that many generations can identify with, even if they don’t want to, or it takes them a few years. On top of that, the ONE Sundance film I got to see this year was stellar, and the whole experience was memorable, especially nabbing a ticket before the other hundred waitlisters could (suck it). I would wish for all Sundance ventures to be like this, but then they would be mundane. So I’m glad we saw this one.

  3. Blake says:

    @ Jessica – Six months isn’t too long, right?

    @ BFF – Well put. You should have gone to see more movies.

  4. J Gould says:

    This movie has been billed as a comedy. The sparse crowd i saw this movie with did not laugh once. It is the story of a pathetic loser’s life. Mike Birbiglia had a life with his girlfriend of 8 years but dumps her because of his fear of marriage and commitment. If you want to pay to see this you are a bigger loser than him.

    In summary, one of the most depressing movies of all time.

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