A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Sleepwalk with Me is an independent dramedy co-written by, co-directed by, and starring comedian Mike Birbiglia, based on his one-man show, which is in turn based on events from his life as a chronic sleepwalker. The movie depicts the main character's dreams, which can sometimes be violent -- in one scene, for example, he jumps out a window and cuts his legs on the broken glass (blood is shown). Another dream features a gun. The character kisses two women, his girlfriend in a flashback, and another woman on the road. Sex is implied, but not shown. Language is very light; only one "s--t" is heard coming from a TV set, and "goddamn" is used. There's some social drinking, with characters occasionally getting drunk.
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What's the story?
Matt (Mike Birbiglia) wants to be a comedian but instead works as a bartender. He does have a great girlfriend, Abby (Lauren Ambrose), though after eight years together, his parents (James Rebhorn and Carol Kane), family, and friends start to wonder why they aren't getting married. At the same time, Matt begins sleepwalking, which quickly turns dangerous. But before he can face any of these problems, he starts getting comedy work on the road. Traveling around and sleeping in hotel rooms, his problems only get worse. It takes a particularly scary sleepwalking dream about jumping out of a window to make Matt wake up and take action.
Is it any good?
Birbiglia is a likeable, almost cuddly comedian, who -- amazingly -- uses almost no profanity in his act. Co-written with Ira Glass, the host and producer of National Public Radio's "This American Life," and with Birbiglia's brother Joe, SLEEPWALK WITH ME is based on Birbiglia's life, specifically dealing with his sleepwalking problem and his relationship troubles. Birbiglia occasionally narrates the events with a funny viewpoint, but after that, the movie is a sweetly effective drama.
Much of the credit goes to Ambrose, who brings heart and humanity to her role. She makes it seem realistic that this couple could stay together even though Matt is such a sad sack. But it's not until the movie's second half that it really picks up momentum and builds drama; the first half is stuck in a holding pattern, taking too long to establish the characters. But by the time Sleepwalk with Me crosses the finish line, it's difficult not to genuinely like everyone involved.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why Matt's comedy improves when he begins talking about his life, rather than making up jokes about TV shows. What makes audiences connect with him?
Why would Matt agree to have sex with the girl in the bar when he knows how much it would hurt his girlfriend and their relationship?
- In theaters: August 24, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: December 18, 2012
- Cast: Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Lauren Ambrose, Mike Birbiglia
- Directors: Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish
- Studio: IFC Entertainment
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 81 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some sexual content and brief language
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