One of the highest compliments I can give to “Sleepwalk with Me,” Mike Birbiglia’s good-natured autobiographical comedy, is that it made me want to seek out more of his work as a comedian and writer.
His lightly fictionalized alter ego, Matt Pandamiglio, is a struggling comedian whose failure to maturely address his stagnant relationship with his girlfriend (Lauren Ambrose) or his unfocused career goals manifests itself in anxiety-produced sleepwalking incidents. Often breaking from the story to speak directly to the audience (a holdover from the film’s origins as a one-man stage play, no doubt), Birbiglia comes across as endearing and affable, the sort of hapless buffoon you’re eager to root for as he struggles to become a responsible adult.
That character arc is awfully common in movies about men in their late 20s, but “Sleepwalk with Me” — based on fact and given the Ira Glass “This American Life” seal of approval — feels authentic rather than contrived. (His development as a comedian, finding his voice and figuring out how the business works, is especially full of vivid details.)
Aided by Lauren Ambrose’s sharp performance as the girlfriend (whom Ambrose refuses to turn into a cliche), and with Carol Kane and James Rebhorn scoring as his dotty parents, Birbiglia humbly finds gold in his unassuming story.
B+ (1 hr., 30 min.; )