This is my kind of comedy. Fair warning: I don’t like a lot of comedies that other, more socially adept people enjoy. When I’m asked to name some of my favorite funny films I might say, Amélie, Being John Malkovitch, or The Cabin in the Woods. Most wouldn’t name any of those as a laugh riot comedy, but hey, to each her own. Sleepwalk with Me takes some of the dark, uncomfortable parts of life and makes them something to laugh at. The star and writer Mike Birbiglia might be likened to a less suicidal-sounding Louis C.K., a man who knows how to make sad humor sound honest, which is why it works. The main character’s narration is at once deeply personal and relatable. It’s also based on true events (and not like how The Exorcism of Emily Rose was based on “true events,” but actually based on personal essays by the writer, which have been featured on NPR’s This American Life).
One of the things I like most (and one of the things some people may hate) is that the ending doesn’t wrap up with a nice little bow. It seems there’s a formula for Western filmmakers to follow when making a comedy involving romance, but this film breaks from typical patterns and does its own thing, which for me is very satisfying. It reminds me of other films with non-traditional romance narratives, such as Away We Go and Up in the Air. These films feature complicated and layered relationships, not ones full of negligible arguments that are blown out of proportion or over-the-top gender stereotypes that make everyone look stupid or humorous mishaps that could be avoided if the two main characters would just grow up and communicate like normal people (I may have an ax to grind with typical romantic comedies, but I digress).
This film is funny. Sometimes I worry that films have already shown all their best dialogue in the trailers, but that’s not the case here. If you like my kind of comedy, you’ll want to check out this film. If you don’t share my taste in comedy, you’re probably a happier person who laughs more than I do, and good for you. Everybody wins.