On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: SLEEPWALK WITH ME (IFC Films), available August 31, 2012 on demand.
SLEEPWALK WITH ME
Quirky Sundance Charmer….a Comedian Comes Out of his Procrastinating Shell
By Cynthia Kane
If you’re the niche audience for this film, meaning if you’re a middle-class white guy and under 35 and kinda nerdy in that cute-nerdy kinda way, this is for you. I am not the niche audience, not at all, and even with some very wince-able moments, I found this charming, quirky plus it really made me consider that good indie filmmaking is not dead. Not by a long shot. And I prefer to most Hollywood films.
Actor-writer Seth Barrish co-directs with Mike B. For each, a virgin turn at the helm. This is a feel-good, fun guy-project that doesn’t diminish its female characters – they just come off smarter and more together than the guys (thanks, guys!) It’s not super slick with a huge budget, but it is genuine and actually funny. I am certain I’m not the only one who wished there were more movies like this out there. And when you come to think of it, I am surprised that more indies are not spun off stories from THIS AMERICAN LIFE.
The storyline’s not so simple, but is based on Birbiglia’s real life saga. Entering into his early 30’s and still pining to do stand-up professionally, Matt Pandamglio is a bartender who feels his life going nowhere. At his sister’s engagement party, he’s bombarded by family and friends with questions as to why he and Abby (Lauren Ambrose – SIX FEET UNDER, WANDERLUST, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE) his girlfriend of 8 years aren’t married. His parents (Carol Kane –DOG DAY AFTERNOON, HESTER STREET, TREES LOUNGE and James Rebhorn – most recently seen in HOMELAND, also MEET THE PARENTS, SCENT OF A WOMAN) are well-meaning but truly mis-guided in ways to support their late-bloomer son.
Then two things happen and along the way collide. 1- Matt begins to sleepwalk due to erratic, highly dramatic, mercurial dreaming (maybe the shock of potential marriage?!) and 2- a low-rent agent gets him an actual gig, a standup gig out of town, somewhere in the depths of upstate New York. Matt takes off, his career a bit more slowly, until he begins to deal with his own personal issues within his act; a form of self-therapy that proves to be hilarious to us, the audience but makes him realize that, well, there might be need changes ahead in his heretofore less-than-challenging life. In fact, he’s been an avoid-all-challenges type of guy. With the combination of sleepwalking and maybe a real-life dream, his career, about to come to realization, there’s no way to avoid or procrastinate any longer. As his career starts to zoom and he’s driving to one gig after the next, the dreams and sleepwalking get crazier and crazier. Hijinks ensue, as they say.
It’s a terrific cast and they make the most of it. Along with Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane and James Rebhorn – all of whom I would love to see more often in anything – you’ll recognize many a supporting cast member of HBO’s GIRLS, including Birbiglia himself, Alex Karpovsky (also seen in Lena Dunham’s TINY FURNITURE) and Kristen Schaal (also very, very funny in HBO’s FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS) plus some other up and coming comics like Marc Maron. Mike B. is low-key, self-deprecating, sweet and yes, I will repeat it, genuine. Handsome in that cute-nerdy kinda way. But now that’s he’s taken full advantage of his own story, what will he come up with next?
SLEEPWALK WITH ME premiered at Sundance Film Festival 2012 where it won the Audience Award and screened quickly thereafter at SXSW. Mike Birbiglia also won the Writer/Director Award at the Nantucket Film Festival in June.
- Cynthia Kane
Cynthia Kane reviews documentaries for On Demand Weekly. She is a writer and Sr Programming Manager for [ ITVS], overseeing the International Initiative for funding in their SF office. Prior she’s had many incarnations from actor to writer to producer. She co-created DOCday on Sundance Channel.
SLEEPWALK WITH ME (IFC Films) can be found under your cable system's On Demand section.
Read Other Reviews By Cynthia Kane:
TRISHNA - DEMAND IT
CHELY WRIGHT: WISH ME AWAY - DEMAND IT
POLISSE - DEMAND IT
CORPO CELESTE - DEMAND IT
WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN - DEMAND IT