Sleepwalk With Me: The Official DAPS Review
Last Wednesday, Damian, DAPS producer Don Arangio, and I hit up the BAM Cinema Festival for the NYC premiere of Mike Birbiglia‘s Sleepwalk With Me. The film which is an adaptation of the comedian’s book and one man show of the same name, is the semi-autobiographical story of Birbigs’ personal difficulties with REM behavior disorder, relationships, becoming a comedian, hovering jackals, bears, and winning the gold at the “dust buster olympics.”
Before I explain anything else, I’d like to point out that the audio version of SWM (yeah, I’m going to abbreviate it from now on) is probably my favorite piece of entertainment to be released in 2011. This is not an exaggeration, some of the tracks on the album have actually snuck into my iTunes “Top 25 most played” list with music that I play often. No bullshit. It’s that great.
Needless to say, my expectations were pretty high going into the film version.
I was not let down.
The film was funny, smart, and heartfelt. Birbiglia starts off immediately breaking the fourth wall and speaking to viewers about the importance of turning off our cell-phones. Like SWM Live, there’s an immediate connection made with the audience. From there Mike takes us on a ride that spans relate-able relationship woes and the struggle to achieve dreams while family members roll their eyes, all while experiencing the interesting and frightening symptoms of the comedian’s sleep disorder.
It’s the kind of movie that makes me love movies; a great original story in an era of reboots and remakes. If I was okay with being cliche, I’d call it a breath of fresh air.
So that’s what I thought. But, I asked Don and Damian to weigh in on the film as well, because 3 opinions are obviously better than one.
Unlike Damian and I, Don actually read the original source material.
As someone who has read Sleepwalk With Me, I’d say that Birbiglia and co-director Seth Barrish captured the essence of the 208-page book pretty well in 90 minutes. I found the movie to be very relatable (I’ve had my heart-broken! I’m struggling in a difficult industry! I also love pizza!), but thematically it’s pretty much the same as every other 20-something white guy movie I’ve seen. Luckily, Birbiglia is charming and funny enough to give well-worn themes a breath of fresh air.
Obviously with a standup like Birbiglia telling the story, Sleepwalk With Me isn’t going to suffer from the seriousness of films like Garden State or the mumblecore genre. I enjoyed the rendering of the dream sequences and the breaking of the fourth wall, which are usually two things that can go very wrong on-screen. The unfortunate things that happen to him hit me on more than one level, in an “Oh shit that’s funny, but I feel really bad for laughing” kind of way. I guess it’s like they say, “Shared pain is lessened”. I enjoyed this movie and I hope he has a few more film projects up his sleeve.
Now, Damian’s take on the film which is actually more of a review of the after-party, which actually turned out to be Birbiglia’s birthday bash.
I went into this film without any previous Mike Birbiglia knowledge. But I still had a great time.
The Movie/ Mike’s story was really, really funny and entertaining. Though I’m not going to focus on the movie because I had an AWESOME time at the after party.
After the movie they corralled us into the upper level of BAM where there was a DJ, pizza, free beer, and of course gyros. Yes. GYROS. And I sampled everything. And all the actors from the film were accessible mingling with the crowd.
The DJ was spinning some really good music, so I danced with a beer in my hand for most of the night. I guess being in a room with hundreds of people I didn’t know allowed me to let loose.
Damian wasn’t kidding. The after-party was pretty sweet, we loaded up on beer from Brooklyn Brewery, a sponsor of the event, and I even got to hob-knob with some of the celebrities in attendance.
Here’s me hanging out with the DJ, whose name I can’t recall:
Now with that sniveling weasel dude from ID4 who played the father in the movie, he was really cool:
After hanging with ol’ Nimzicki, I got to meet SWM producer (and This American Life host) Ira Glass which was a real treat:
Obviously, I was most excited to say hi to actor/writer/director Mike Birbiglia himself, I’m a really big fan.
It’s always fun to meet celebrities, it’s even more fun to do so while enjoying some free beer!
To recap: We had a really great time at the party, and enjoyed the film immensely. I strongly recommend that you guys all go check out this excellent film, it’s far better than the other sequel/prequel/re-boot garbage that’s in the theaters these days.
Editor’s Note: Sleepwalk With Me (which currently has a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes) will be released to limited screens on August 24th, 2012.
Keep updated with where the film will be opening on the film’s official Twitter account.