December 28, 2012 -- This very offbeat romantic comedy is based on a true story. In fact, this film seems like a documentary at first because part of it is told in first person by the guy who wrote the film and who also stars in it as himself. Some of those parts are also filmed in documentary style.
Mike Birbiglia is the star, writer and co-director of the film. He is a stand up comic afflicted with REM Sleep Behavior Disorder which results in him acting out his dreams at times. In one instance, shown in the movie, he jumped right through second story window while he was asleep. Mike's extreme sleepwalking episodes seem to be brought on by stress. In the early part of the film he is in a lot of stress financially and in his relationship with his girlfriend, Abby (Lauren Ambrose of the TV Series “Six Feet Under”).
Mike has lost his job. At the same time, he is working on his stand up comic act. His career as a stand up comic at this point does not look promising and this is a very tough way to make a living, but he is determined. He hooks up with a quirky manager who gets him a few gigs. He goes out on the road in a run-down car, trying to make a living while building up his collection of jokes. His sleepwalking episodes get worse.
As Mike spends more and more time on the road, he grows apart from Abby and their relationship gets strained to the breaking point. This part of the story is hard to believe because Abby is so beautiful and is portrayed so sympathetically in the movie, it seems like Mike has to be crazy to betray her and break her heart. If this was a fictional story instead of a true one, I suspect the filmmakers would have made Abby a character easier to dislike. This makes the film seem more real and less like a standard romantic comedy.
Even though the story does have its serious elements, it is very funny. Mike is a funny guy, onstage and off. The conflict in Mike's life gets sorted out and he finds a funny solution to his sleepwalking problem. This same story is the subject of a successful one-man stage show written and performed by Mike Birbiglia in New York in 2008 and 2009. He later wrote a successful book about this story. He has followed that up with this very successful film. Mike Birbiglia is a very impressive young talent. This film rates a B.
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