Sleeper (1973)

SLEEPER (1973)
Article #1047 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-26-2004
Posting Date: 6-24-2004
Directed by Woody Allen
Featuring Woody Allen, Diane Keaton, John Beck

A nerdish health-food owner is accidentally frozen cryogenically, and is then revived two hundred years later to help a resistance group do battle with a totalitarian regime.

For me, Woody Allen blows hot and cold. I’m quite fond of some of his comedies, particularly TAKE THE MONEY AND RUN and LOVE AND DEATH, but I’ve always felt this foray into science fiction was something of a disappointment. The problem is that the movie tries to be several things at once; it’s part wild comedy inspired by the silent comedians (notice how many of the slapstick gags consist of music and visuals without talk or sound effects), part satire on life in the ’70s, part sci-fi spoof, and part Woody in his usual neurotic mode. For me, the satire works best; my favorite moment has Woody’s character being asked to comment on a variety of photographs and film clips from the twentieth century. The wild silent-era-style comedy is sporadic; certain comic moments would have worked better if he had shortened them. The sci-fi spoof elements are likeable but occasionally obvious (Woody dealing with a Hal-like computer, Woody fighting a giant blob-like pudding), though he does a great job in trying to imitate a robot. It’s his use of the standard Woody Allen persona that I find distracting and out of place here; the constant bickering about Luna’s attraction to the handsome Erno gets tiring very quickly. Ultimately, I think it was Woody’s desire to really explore that persona that eventually led him away from comedy like this. Nonetheless, this is probably the Woody Allen movie that most belongs to the category of fantastic cinema.


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