on July 14, 2000
Woody Allen pulls out all the comic stops here, utilizing everything from Orwellian social satire, sci-fi movie parody, Harold Lloyd-style pratfalls,and a scene involving giant fruits and vegetables that has to be the funniest sight gag ever committed to celluoid. The one or two minutes of screen time involving the "Orgasmatron" alone is funnier than all the gags combined in any entire Farrelley brothers or Jim Carrey movie you'd care to name. By the way, am I the only person who noticed that the 1993 Sylvester Stallone film "Demolition Man" ripped off at least a half dozen comic premises directly from "Sleeper"? Granted, the "Rip Van Winkle" concept wasn't invented by Allen,but still...the gag about junk food being considered health food in the future--(just for starters) that's too specific to be coincidence! Oh well,there hasn't been an original thought in Hollywood since the mid-70's anyway- so why should we lose sleep, eh? Don't miss this 'sleeper'!
on March 5, 2001
I'm normally not a futuristic, sci-fi fan, so I was a little reclutant to see this DVD version. I was sure it would be yet another film ripping off earlier films' special effects, as so many sci-fi films do today. Boy, was I wrong with this certain dvd version! It's a little hard to believe that this film was made in 1973. It possesses orginality, creativity, and the simple ability to make you laugh. A few of my main favorite scenes are the "Orgasmatron", which really had me laughing! The one when Keaton's character, Luna, coerces Allen's character, Miles, into this spacesuit-like costume and pulls the cord that blows it up and has Allen flying around--many people might not like this certain scene, because it doesn't require Allen's verbal wit-- but it was incredibly funny because he looked so ridiculous. I especially love the scene when Miles thinks he's Blanche Dubois and Luna has to become Stanley Kowalski in order to gently steer him back to reality. Allen was good as Vivien Leigh's Blanche, but Keaton was really wonderful as Marlon Brando's Stanley. This is an especially esoteric movie, because some people may not realize that one of Allen's goals for this movie was to satirize everything in the 1970's, including essential politicians. (Check out one of the earliest scenes, when Miles explains people that were important in the 1970's, such as Reagan and Nixon. This is one of the reasons why I like this movie so much. I don't have any complaints with this movie. Although, I did wonder whether Miles would choose to stay in the future with Luna, or have himself crygonically preserved again in the hopes that he'll wake up in another era that he actually likes. On a more materialistic note, I can't get over how young Allen looks in this movie! He actually looks good. And I can't believe how beautiful Keaton is! They really worked well together in this movie. I highly recommend this DVD version~don't miss it!
on August 19, 2000
Retro-cool, low budget, futuristic and ultra-chic, this comedy has it all. Not the typical Woody Allen film, and Allen is not for the typical audience, so the title is fitting. It's a glimpse of what Woody Allen USED to be ie "Without Feathers" and Take the Money & Run, but in his one attempt at science fiction. I'm definitely a Woody Allen fan yet there are a few of his films I will not watch. Annie Hall is my number 1, after that Manhattan, Hannah & Her Sisters (I've seen this one 10 times I think), but Sleeper is in a class by itself, so it's usually overlooked by most fans. To enjoy this film: relax, look for cheap yet clever special effects, the coolest sets, wardrobes, and dispositions you can ask for. The gay scene is hilarious. The party Diane Keaton throws could be the prototype of a subculture in itself. How this film has eluded cult status I do not know.
Woody Allen stars, directs and co-wrote (with Marshall Brickman) this hilarious film. Perhaps not his funniest, but if not, it's close. Allen plays Miles Monroe who, in 1973, went in the hospital for routine surgery for an ulcer and when things didn't go well, he was placed in a cryogenic state. Two hundred years later he is found by a couple of scientists who bring him out of his coma. This entails unwrapping Miles from the aluminum foil that encased his head (complete with glasses) and his extremities.
It takes Miles a while to acclimate himself to his situation but the one-liners never stop, and I never stopped laughing or at least broadly grinning. Some viewers may miss out on some of the inside jokes unless you're familiar with the culture of New York in the 1970's. It turns out Miles's rescuers are part of an underground movement to overthrow a supreme leader who has instituted a police state mostly devoid of feelings and emotion. For example when a couple or individual want to have pleasurable sex they just go into a cylindrical closet called an orgasmatron and after a few seconds...satisfaction. Miles, of course would prefer sex the old fashion way.
When the police arrest Miles's scientist rescuers he escapes, but must take on the guise of a domestic robot. This sequence really shows Allen's ability at physical comedy. The entire film has many slapstick routines and this is one of the best examples as Allen channels Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and others from the silent era. When Miles is sent to work for a beautiful but propagandized woman named Luna (Diane Keaton, Allen's off-screen paramour at the time) the fun begins anew. Keaton is excellent and the repartee between the couple is wonderful to watch. The film is a hoot to watch. Certainly one of Allen's best.
The Blu ray transfer is in 1080p and has a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. For a film this old, the transfer looks very good. The film grain is clearly visible but I'm not surprised. It is not distracting unless you are expecting a smooth background consistent with more digital forms used today. The clarity is so good you'll be able to see goofs in the film not otherwise noticeable. Once sequence in particular is when Luna jumps on top of Miles who is inside an inflated rubber suit on the water. A gunshot releases air from the suit and it is propelled across a lake. You can easily see that Luna is wearing different shoes on the water than when she started. And you can see the tow line attached to the suit. No biggie. Excellent transfer. The audio comes in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono. Allen isn't big on surround or even stereo but this mono track is very good. The film contains a lot of music recorded with Allen and the famous Preservation Hall Jazz Band. The only extra is a trailer for the film.
`Sleeper' is the only Woody Allen work where in addition to acting, writing, and directing, he also contributes to the music by playing clarinet in the band performing on the sound track. This is his fourth triple credit movie and I believe it may be one of his better movies before `Annie Hall', which is still two movies into the future. Unlike `Bananas' and `All you ever wanted to know about Sex...', it seems to have more and better satire than simple parody, although there is parody and homage to famous comedic bits aplenty here. The most memorable `quote' is when Allen apes the famous Marx brothers routine where Groucho thinks he is seeing himself in a floor length mirror, but he is actually seeing Harpo dressed to imitate Groucho and aping every move he makes to keep the mirror image illusion.
One piece of satire that has actually improved in value over the last 25 years is the conceit that everything that was once thought to be bad for you, such as smoking, is now actually believed to be good for you. All you have to do is think back to the fate of eggs, fats, potatoes, and wine to realize that this gag is perilously close to the truth in a lot of cases.
This movie does not have the long `guest star' list or even a lot of the Allen stock company regulars as we see in `All you ever wanted to know about Sex...' or `Bananas'. The only cameo of note is a brief simulated telecast by Howard Cosell. Virtually the entire movie is carried on the backs of Allen's performance and, to a much lesser extent, the fairly ordinary performance from Diane Keaton. Not much of the great work we will later see in `Annie Hall'. But then, Allen isn't writing for drama or character development. All we get is setup, setup, setup, gag, follow-up, setup, setup,...and so on. The whole story is a great big setup for comic effect.
The story is that Allen goes into the hospital in 1976 for a simple procedure and is put into a cryogenic sleep. His cryogenic capsule is discovered 200 years later by a team of scientists who decide to awaken him and set him off to help overthrow a dictator because there is no trace of his identity.
Early in the movie, Allen shows off how really very good he is at physical comedy, much in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, and the Marx brothers, although except for a bit here and there, it is never entirely clear that he is imitating any of these precursors.
If this owes anything to any other movie, it is probably `Fahrenheit 451', the film with Oskar Werner and Julie Christie made of the Ray Bradbury novel.
I am partial to Allen's later films, especially `Manhattan', `Stardust Memories', and `Hannah and Her Sisters', but I believe this is one of his two or three best before `Annie Hall', better than `Bananas' and `All you ever wanted to know about Sex...'.
Recommended for some great jokes and some really great physical gags.
This isn't necessarily Woody Allen's best film, but to me it is his funniest. Most people see ANNIE HALL as the dividing line between early and late Woody Allen. Through ANNIE HALL, he was concerned with creating laughs, lots of laughs. But ANNIE HALL also brought a more mature technique in filmmaking, and with each film after it, there was less and less a concern that the audience laugh at a new joke every few minutes. Personally, I like to laugh, and I am not alone in preferring Woody's earlier to his later films.
The plot is akin to Rip Van Winkle. Miles Monroe is a health food storeowner who is frozen following unsuccessful surgery, to be reawakened two hundred years in the future. Most of the jokes in the film result from his experiences first from being reawakened and then acquainted with the world of the future. He is accidentally thrown together with a woman played by Diane Keaton, and eventually they are forced by circumstances to embrace the rebellion by the Big Brother type of totalitarianism controlling society.
The humor is a bit more slapstick than in much Woody Allen, though there are a wealth of one-liners. There are some wonderful absurdities, such as the ridiculous mechanized pet dog that Miles is given after his rehabilitation. And who could ever forget the Orgasmatron? Or the giant vegetable patch? Or the hysterical cameo narration by Douglas Rain, who also provided the voice for HAL in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY?
I continue to enjoy Woody Allen's films, and have, I guess, seen every movie he has ever made. But I do so with mildly dwindling interest, and considerable regret that he no longer tries to make me laugh so hard I injure my rib cage.
on June 11, 2014
Many of you already know this is a hilarious, silly, slap-stick, satirical comedy, with a toe-tapping jazz accompaniment to its many silent comedy sketches, so rather than commenting on that, here is the underlying story . . . .
For Dr. Orva and other members of the underground movement, the year 2173 brings no joy. They're unhappy with the government of the American Federation, and in particular, the Leader - who's smiling, paternal countenance can be found everywhere. Belying his apparent benevolence, under his rule, if any citizen, should have the audacity to think, say, or do anything not approved of by the government, will be labeled an "alien" and have their brain electronically simplified . . . .
Recently, the underground had sniffed out the name of a new secret project the government had instigated: Project AIRES; is it a plan to eradicate the underground? It is going to be difficult to find out - the government knows everything about its citizens, tracks their movements, and monitors their actions - what they need is someone with no identity . . . .
Luckily one of their members, while on a field trip, found a 200 year old cryogenic, life-preserving chamber containing a man - a man with no identity! Dr. Orva and a small team illegally reanimate the bespectacled Miles Monroe, but discover the cynical young Miles wants no part of their plan and their time to convince him runs out when the police arrive . . . .
For Luna the year 2173 brings the simple joy of endless house parties to recite her poetry to her artistic guests, but her carefree life is about to change when she finally realizes her new robot servant is the wild-haired Miles Monroe . . . .
Blu-ray - 2013. Sharpness, color, contrast, & brightness: good, but grainy. Sound volume normal, clarity excellent. Subtitles: English & Spanish only; French subtitles are "not included." Extra: movie trailer.
on February 8, 2002
I didn't consider myself a big Woody Allen fan when this movie came out. In fact, when I saw this movie I had no opinion on Allen at all. But this movie made me more objective of his work. That's not a slap at those who are big Allen fans, just a qualifier to my critique. This is one of the funniest movies I've ever seen - right up there with the "His Girl Fridays, Airplanes, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankensteins, Night at the Operas", etc... Friends of mine have asked, "how can you watch that little dweeb?". They miss the point. In this movie in particular, it's Woody's dweebness that makes the movie work, and makes you laugh so hard. The situations he's put in and his responses to things 200 years ahead of his own time are hilarious, especially given his demeanor. Watch for my 2 favorite scenes - 1) when they pass the ball (what exactly it's called I forget) to catch a buzz, and 2) when the doctors from the future run items from the past by him to get a better understanding of their significance. The picture of the future that is painted in this movie is hilarious, and the wit that Allen displays is equal to the task - quick and economical. This happened to be the time in her life when I was red hot for Dianne Keaton. She was so sexy at this point in her life ("Looking For Mr. Goodbar" pushed me over the edge in my lusting for her) and she is perfect as the mindless ditz (like so many others of her time) whom Allen tries to explain the absurdaties of the period in which she lives. And there are so many small things that make you laugh that if you don't pay attention will fly right by you (ala "Airplane")- the doctors surprise at what was considered normal and/or healthy during Allen's time and what they now consider "good for you", Allen's coping with the new era he lives in, and so many others that you have to see to understand. Allen and Keaton are the perfect pair for this movie. They play off each other perfectly in a background that is so bleak, so bland, so void of style or individuality that their work is a credit to what great acting can do with little back drop - it makes the back drop more significant. I have to admit, I may have laughed the hardest the first time I saw this flick when I was, uh, somewhat under the influence. One of my favorite comedies of all time.
on May 10, 2001
I absolutely love this movie. I remember watching it on Allen's birthday and they were showing a marathon. I had never heard of this one, and I can't believe I'm a big fan of his work and never came across this one. A must-see! Woody Allen stars as a man who went into a hospital in 1973 for a routine ulcer operation, went into a coma, and wakes up exactly 200 years in the future, having been frozen. What ensues is one the most hilarious movies around. Allen and Diane Keaton are a dynamic comic duo, and the screenplay by Allen and Marshall Brickman is excellent. Full of hilarious sight gags in the tradition of Buster Keaton and great one-liner jokes in the style of Bob Hope. I discovered that this was Allen's intention. Along with the excellent performances by Allen and Keaton, Woody Allen's direction and use of music steers toward brilliance. The Rag Time Rascals, the band he jammed with on occasion, plays throughout the movie, with Allen on the clarinet. Awesome Flick!
This film comes from that era of when Woody Allen was kind of a young, subversive college radical version of HAROLD LLOYD... mixing Silent Comedy era slapstick with a new type of self/social (but oddly not political) observant psychoanalytic humor. Of this era, this and TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN had to have been the two most hillarious films... and both, fortunately have held up with time ! ! ! Featuring a much more structured plot than Bananas and Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex (which were moreso mere vehicles for Allen's gags and not really a showcase for his full bodied talents as a film maker) SLEEPER brings back a sigh of meloncholy when you remember when it was hip to be Jewish, neurotic and radicalized (...and live in Greenberg's Village !) - - Oddly enough with its futuristic tale seems fresher than ever in the post cuberpunk era (minus the hair styles !)... the only difference is that often when the film laughs at the present, we laugh at the past... and when it makes fun of the future, we laugh with it. - - Overall, the movie is hillarious. Dianne Keaton plays a vain and self centered ditzy intellectual poet/socialite who transforms from hostage to partner in crime... and the film features one of the best closing lines of all time (Woody Allen's famous comparison bewteen sex and death...) no, I won't give it away here... all I can say is go out and watch it again... and again and again !