Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Kristen Schaal, Loudon Wainwright III, Cristin Milioti, David Wain, Hannibal Burress, Wyatt Cenac, William C. Dement, Lucy DeVito, Sondra James, Alex Karpovsky, Emily Meade, Marc Maron
Written by: Mike Birbiglia, Joe Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Seth Barrish
Directed by: Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running Time: 81
Date: 01/23/2012
IMDB

Sleepwalk with Me (2012)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Maybe Steps

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Mike Birbiglia is a likeable, almost cuddly comedian, who -- amazingly -- uses almost no profanity in his act. Co-written with Ira Glass, the host and producer of National Public Radio's "This American Life," and with Birbiglia's brother Joe, Sleepwalk with Me is based on Birbiglia's life, specifically dealing with his sleepwalking problem and his relationship troubles. 

Matt (Birbiglia) wants to be a comedian, but instead works as a bartender. He does have a great girlfriend, Abby (Lauren Ambrose), though after eight years together, his parents (James Rebhorn and Carol Kane), family and friends begin to wonder why they aren't getting married. At the same time, Matt begins sleepwalking, which quickly turns dangerous. But before he can face any of these problems, he starts getting work as a comedian on the road. Traveling around, sleeping in hotel rooms, his problems only get worse. It takes a particularly scary sleepwalking dream about jumping out of a window to make Matt wake up and begin to take action.

Birbiglia occasionally narrates the events with a funny viewpoint, but after that, the movie is a sweetly effective drama. Much of the credit goes to Ms. Ambrose, who brings heart and humanity to her role. She makes it seem realistic that this couple could stay together when the Matt character is such a sad sack. However, it's not until the movie's second half that it really picks up momentum and builds the drama. The first half is stuck in a holding pattern, taking too long to establish the characters. But by the time it crosses the finish line, it has become difficult not to genuinely like everyone involved.
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