Mike Birbiglia

Avengers Re-Release

Well, it looks like he’s done it. After publicly denouncing the spread of Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me as offensive “to [his] very core,” Joss Whedon asked movie fans to boycott the indie film by requesting it come to their town. While Sleepwalk With Me has yet to expand fully, it did $68,000 in just a single theater last weekend – a fact that most likely burns Whedon to no end. The best per theater average his superhero movie managed was a miniscule $47,000. Point: Birbiglia. So how has Whedon responded? According to /film, he and Marvel are re-launching The Avengers into more theaters this Labor Day weekend in a move that reeks of pure desperation. It’s a Hail Mary pass that points out just how terrified the director is of Birbiglia’s  advancing indie film. It’s tough to see the fight get this nasty – especially when it’s between such good friends. You’ll need to check your local listings for both, but whose team will you be on? Whedon’s, Birbiglia’s or both?  

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Editor’s note: Festival favorite Sleepwalk With Me hits limited release this week, so what follows is a re-run of our Sundance review of the film, originally posted on January 27, 2012. Kate loved the film so much that she saw it again just two months later at SXSW. From its very first moments, Mike Birbiglia‘s Sleepwalk With Me establishes a very specific relationship with its audience - Birbiglia, playing a version of himself, turns to the camera and reassures us that what we’re about to hear is indeed true, and then he makes us laugh. Birbiglia is a stand-up comedian, writer, and actor, and Sleepwalk With Me is his directorial debut, which is loosely based on his own life. A mix of painful personal stories about a failing relationship, try-and-fail outings at his primary career, and the unraveling of his life by way of a serious medical condition (yup, sleepwalking), the film is (genuinely) both hilarious and heartfelt. Birbiglia directed, co-wrote, and stars in the film. Which is based on his one-man show of the same name and his 2010 comedic memoir, “Sleepwalk With Me and Other Painfully True Stories.” Which probably all sounds incredibly self-indulgent, but it’s not, because Birbiglia is more than willing to make himself look like a loser and an asshole and untalented wanker (even though he’s none of those things). At one point, during one of his conversations with the audience and before the recounting of a particularly painful and embarrassing tale, Birbiglia reminds us that we’re on his side. It’s […]

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As those who follow the film industry closely might already know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon released a passion project earlier this summer that went by the name of The Avengers. It was a fairly popular film, playing in over four thousand theaters, breaking a bunch of box office records, and making $1,461,891,916 worldwide to date. That’s not to say that it was a complete success though. It still hasn’t broken every box office record, it still hasn’t made all of the money…and now it may never get to because of a cocky young upstart named Mike Birbiglia. You may have heard of Birbiglia before: he’s a stand-up comedian, a writer, and a radio personality who has turned his memoirs entitled “Sleepwalk With Me” into a modestly budgeted indie film that will be given a limited release with minimal promotion. Enough promotion that it’s likely to ruin Whedon’s chances at being declared King of Hollywood though. As the Avengers director explains in this video, Sleepwalk With Me was only supposed to open on thirty-some screens originally, but due to a dogged campaign by Birbiglia and his dangerous, cult-like following, it’s now set to open on over 80. Simply put, this will help push The Avengers out of some of the 500 or so theaters it’s still playing in, and effectively take food out of the mouths of Joss Whedon’s (myriad) children.

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Whether it’s been as a comedian, writer, storyteller, or frequent contributor to This American Life, Mike Birbiglia has made a living just talking about his experiences and getting audiences to relate to his day to day struggles. The latest development in his career progression is this new film, Sleepwalk With Me, a tale of struggling in a new career, dealing with societal pressure to start a family, and living through an insane medical condition that makes you do crazy shit while you’re asleep; all material ripped straight out of Birbiglia’s real life experiences. Sleepwalk With Me started as a stage show called “Sleepwalk With Me Live,” which later got recorded and became a best-selling comedy album of the same name. The next step was to turn the stories into written memoirs, so “Sleepwalk With Me & Other Painfully True Stories” was born, and went on to become a New York Times Bestseller. This new film adaptation of the material features Birbiglia acting in the starring role, co-directing with Seth Barrish, and co-writing with a handful of collaborators. That’s a lot of Mike Birbiglia.

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