It’s not uncommon for movies about stand-up comedy to be terrible (Punchline) or so insular that they’re alienating (Funny People).
Mike Birbiglia has made something of a miracle. Sleepwalk with Me is hysterically funny, filled with good stand-up, sympathetic performances and characters we care about.
Birbiglia plays Matt Pandamiglio, a struggling and not-very-good comedian with a caring girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose, making you forget Six Feet Under), a father who thinks Matt makes all the wrong decisions (James Rebhorn, channeling his asshole character from Scent of a Woman) and a possibly deadly sleep disorder.
When a booking agent who Matt meets by chance gets him a gig, a fellow comedian (Marc Maron, who’s charming in a small part) gives him the first good professional advice he’s ever received. From there, his comedy gets better while everything else around him gets worse.
The dreams are funny while being nerve-wracking; Matt has a tendency to act them out and wake up mid-dream.
Also a bonus: Seeing other comedians on a movie screen, if only briefly. The script, by Birbiglia and This American Life’s Ira Glass (and others), is smart, perceptive and never takes itself too seriously. Sleepwalk with Me is a total winner.
CCA Cinematheque, NR 81 min.