Sleeper is a scantly known Woody Allen movie recommended to me by fellow blogger badfinger20. I was enthralled by it and frankly it remains a mystery how it isn’t more widely known. I cannot remember the last time I laughed so hard watching a movie.
IMDB: Miles, a nebbishy clarinet player who also runs a health food store in NYC’s Greenwich Village, is cryogenically frozen, and brought back – 200 years in the future, by anti-government radicals in order to assist them in their attempt to overthrow the oppressive government. When he goes off on his own, he begins to explore this brave new world, which has Orgasmatron booths to replace sex and confessional robots.
“I don’t know what the hell I’m doing here. I’m 237 years old; I should be collecting social security.”
Apart from being one of the funniest movies I’ve seen, it also contains one of the wittiest premises. I’ve watched a fair few Allen movies and I have enjoyed them all, but his comedic genius radiates most intensely in this. I for one did not know that Woody was such a great physical comedian. His physical slap stick comedy is brilliant.
But the intelligence behind his manic goofiness in Sleeper is the crowning achievement. Despite how different things are in the future, his neurotic Jewish Brooklynite’s wry sense of humour stays the same. The movie is interspersed with occasional ragtime theme music and stepped-up film speed which despite harping back to the comedic pioneers like Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, still looks and feels as fresh as yesterday’s coat of paint.
Diane Keaton who regularly appears as Woody Allen’s confidante in his movies, is more than his match here and regularly steals the limelight. It showcases her unassailable comedic talents like no other movie I have seen her in. The highlight for me and what is one of the funniest scenes in the entire film involves her doing an impression of Marlon Brando. Her performance in Sleeper is one of the most hilarious I have seen by an actress full-stop.
The other aspect of Sleeper which impressed me greatly were the props and production design. The orgasm-machine, futuristic houses, round vehicles, stiff servant gay-robots, gigantic fruits all seem to indicate we are moving towards times where ignorance revels and empty pleasure-hunting is celebrated as the correct form of bliss. It genuinely feels like something you might expect to see if Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World was adapted for the screen, with of course a twisted comedic flavor. And regarding the premise and political commentary, you could throw George Orwell’s 1984 into the mix as well.
As far as sci-fi comedies go, Sleeper is a definite winner. I had so much fun with it. There wasn’t a pedestrian moment in it. Also, there aren’t many comedies out there which can top this in terms of gags-per-second ratio and just sheer quality. The ‘rewatchability’ force is strong with this one!