Friday, 14 February 2014

Sleepwalk With Me

If you are interested in comedy, comedians, enjoying yourself or watching other’s lives disintegrate then you absolutely have to do everything you can to watch the new film by Mike Burbiglia.  Winner of a Sundance Film Festival award and constantly praised ever since, it is an absolute must see.  Especially for teenage hipster girls, who’ll find it their ‘favourite film ever’ throughout their school years.

Just released on Blu-Ray and DVD Sleepwalk With Me is a story that fills in a lot of gaps and explains the jokes you may have heard before if you’re familiar Burbiglia’s work.  It’s not very likely that you have unless you are mega into comedy, because he’s very much an underground American comedian.  I think he’s incredibly funny, but you don’t really have to know who he is or anything of the sort to enjoy this movie, because explaining everything about his life is pretty much the job of this “Burbigliography”.

It’s a strange mixture between funny, informative and gently and tastefully harrowing.  Imagine a cross between Jerry Seinfeld: Comedian and Requiem For a Dream, but without the desire to kill yourself after.  There is a small chance that you will leave your significant other and travel the world doing stand-up, and who knows, you might be happier.

Mike plays Matt Pandamiglio who is clearly, as he doesn’t attempt to hide it, himself.  The story is entirely true and bizarre, mixing stand-up comedy and off-the-wall rom-com intentions to entertain anyone at all.  The film is basically about Matt’s struggle with being in a relationship for eight years that he’s not particularly happy in, with outside pressure from his family and friends to marry his girlfriend.  The more pressure builds up around him, the weirder his nightmares get and because he suffers from rapid eye movement behaviour disorder he starts acting them out.

Initially this is slightly amusing but ultimately becomes nearly fatal as he throws himself out a window in his sleep and wakes up full glass and confusion.  I once had a really boring dream that I tidied my house and washed all my dishes, and doing that while asleep would have been amazing.  The other dreams of aliens destroying my house, or that I can fly, well those would cause difficulties and I’m fairly certain I once dreamed that I cut my penis off with a razor blade too.  I think I can live with having to tidy my house in exchange for not castrating myself, it’s too late for me to become a castrato and I can’t sing for shit anyway.

His girlfriend wants to get married and he makes it clear that the thought alone terrifies him so much that he’d rather fuck a beehive.  As you can imagine this causes a certain amount of tension between the pair of them, which only increases over time.  Eventually he panics during a massive fight with her and proposes, basically to get her to stop crying because he has feelings but no logic circuit.  It reminded me of a time when I was dating a girl about 3 days before my friend from a far away country came to visit me.  Seeing as she was to be staying in my room for a week and that she was a fabulously beautiful woman, there was a tension.  I panicked and drunkenly proposed to my girlfriend of one week to prove to her that I had no desire… well intention, of doing anything against the rules during the time she was there.  Fortunately she said yes and now my life is ruined.  So while I try to formulate a noose out of bed sheets and also somehow turn this review into a suicide note I can promise you that I understand how Matt/Mike felt in these moments.

Instead of killing himself like a coward he decides to throw himself into his comedy and starts touring America, doing stand up gigs and refining his technique.  Now, his jokes are childish and don’t amount too much more than “What is the secret ingredient of a toilet? Poo!”, and he is no more recognised as a comedian as I am Oscar Wilde.  Which I’m not.  While talking to a fellow, a much more successful comedian, there is a moment where he complains about not wanting to get married until he’s sure nothing else good is ever going to happen in his life, and he’s encouraged to bring that dry ‘real’ comedy on stage and things start to go well.

So when being made to choose between having fun for the rest of his life or watching it all gradually fade into a grey boring existence, having a child just to distract himself long enough before unloading a shotgun into his face, he decides to continue on his path of comedy.  The moral of the whole story seems to be, don’t get married just because that’s what everyone expects, because if you do you’re a fucking idiot.

Watch the film though it’s really uplifting and gets a 4/5, []

Dave Roberts

Sleepwalk With Me at CeX

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