| Matt Pandamiglio (comedian-monologist Mike Birbiglia from “Cedar Rapids” and “Your Sister’s Sister”) is just a regular guy. He has three things on his mind. He works at a bar where they have improv comedy. He desperately wants to make a living as a stand-up comic, but his impersonal observational jokes put audiences to sleep.
Secondly, he is unwilling to make a marital commitment to his practical down-to-earth girlfriend Abby (Lauren Ambrose best known for playing Claire Fisher in HBO’s “Six Feet Under”). She teaches at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music and does vocal yoga workshops in the evenings for adults. They have been dating for eight years and recently decided to move in together.
Matt’s third challenge is a serious and potentially life-threatening REM behavior disorder. He acts out his dreams while sleepwalking.
Filmmaker Birbiglia in this autobiographically-inspired fictional feature debut breaks the fourth wall and talks directly to the screen. His ongoing monologue bears a nodding resemblance to Woody Allen. His anxiety and obsessing about his future is expressed in humorous observations while driving a car or performing his stand-up routine on various stages.
The supporting characters include Matt’s judgmental father Frank (James Rebhorn from “Meet the Parents”), wacky mom Linda (Carol Kane from “Taxi”) and younger sister Janet (Cristin Milioti from “30 Rock”).
Birbiglia is such an engaging individual that you can’t help but like him. You root for him to overcome all the obstacles and succeed in life. The honest storytelling approach is personable and irresistibly delightful.
The movie is hilariously funny and witty. Although messy at times, his relationship with Abby is sweet and endearing. The sleepwalking incidents are the weakest links in the narrative, because it is difficult to show on screen the vividness of a dream no matter how outrageous.
This crowd-pleasing comedy won the Audience Award for Best of Next! at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. It opens exclusively for a limited engagement at the Glenwood Arts and the Tivoli in Westport.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"