What’s up chumps, chumpettes, drummers, and drumettes? I’m going to do something a little different with this week. When I came up this idea all those last week ago I envisioned just writing about about terrible action movies and comedies I found randomly on Netlfix or Amazon and telling to watch them because they are fun as fuck. They remain fun as fuck, and I’ll probably write about more of them at some point but something really important happened last week. I saw a picture on Facebook. In a shocker it wasn’t a mostly naked chick or dude taking a shirtless mirror selfie, it was a picture that Mike Birbigilia shared from the La Quinita Inn he jumped out of in 2005. (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151737141388310&set=a.65495703309.74163.7064128309&type=1&theater) The hotel had placed a placard there stating this was the room he jumped out of and inspired his movie, “Sleepwalk With Me”. How could I ignore that? A comedian I find funny has movie and it includes him jumping out of a window, sign me up twice.
Then a funny thing happened when I watched it. It was one the best movies I had seen in a while. I adored it. For being his first and only writing and directing attempt, Birbiglia absolutely took this beyond my expectations. I rarely tell people to watch things when I’m not yelling a them on the internet but I told people to watch this. A lot of this movie is the acted out forms of his stand up act’s jokes. Maybe that’s why this was so successful, the source material was incredibly familiar to him and as he so eloquently tells you at the beginning of the films, it’s a true story. For real, it’s true.
That scene at the beginning is part of this movie’s strength. The entire film is delivered in a very colloquial, human, conversational way. This movie doesn’t really ask you to suspend your disbelief, it breaks it in the first moments of the movie by showing you someone you recognize and having him talk to you directly about what this is and serve as the narrator for the remainder of the film. Movies typically rely on your suspension of disbelief to feel emotions for the characters. You feel sympathetic and empathic to the characters in front of you because you don’t want anything bad to happen to them as you watch what is occurring “live”. In this movie you realize and sympathize with Birbigs the same way you do when someone tells you a story about something in their life. Not like a stupid story about their kids pooping on the floor of McDonald’s and how embarrassing that was, but a story that helps you understand how they define themselves as a person. The way Birbiglia relates to relationships and his sleeping disorder, and how came to these terms is what this movie is about. These are huge parts of his life and the disclosure in this movie feels transparent.
The topics handled are relatable. Not all of us are going to leap from a window, but all of us are going to be a tough spot in a relationship. Relationships are some of the hardest things we do as people and our media never seems to handle it properly. A relationship in a movie is either hell on earth or the Garden of Eden never anything in between. This feels like something that was written by someone that took the time to rationalize the process of being in love and falling out of it. It really handles the concept of sometimes shit happens in life and love. Sometimes no one is malicious, sometimes people make mistakes and do the wrong thing. I don’t think this kind of story could be accomplished by anything but a “true story” movie by someone that isn’t really on the movie grid. Birbigs is a comedian and judging by the fact he hasn’t really done much more acting or writing it seems like he intends to stay that way for a bit.
There are some amazing lines and scenes in this movies that come from his stand up background. The lines about not giving up are inspiring, the way he describes her teeth is incredibly relatable, everyone that has felt overwhelmed someone has said something like that. The entirety of the college montage at the beginning feels human. That’s the strength of this movie, it’s hilarious but it is so honest. Do yourself a favor and watch it, you might learn a little about your past, present, or future with someone else and laugh the entire time.