Thursday, September 27, 2012

Sleeper (1973) Review

Sleeper posterDirector: Woody Allen
Stars: Woody Allen, Diane Keaton
Genre: Comedy, Science Fiction

An earlier film by one of the greats of comedy, Woody Allen. I, being a fan of both Woody Allen and science fiction, was very excited to watch this. Was I disappointed? No, not at all, but this is still only decent Allen material at best.

After this film is when Woody Allen's greatest stuff really started, like Love and Death, Annie Hall, Manhattan, etc. It seems like Sleeper came right before his peak.

This film was only the second Keaton-Allen film (the first being Play it Again, Sam) and you can really tell they hadn't got their chemistry quite right yet. At least not as good as they were together in say Annie Hall. Don't get me wrong, Woody Allen even here probably shows some of the best, most believable and realistic chemistry and relationships ever put to film. That's what he does best, create believable relationships.

So the plot of this film, which isn't very important, it essentially serves as a vehicle for Woody to get his jokes in, is about a man from 1973 (Allen) who is frozen and then awoken 200 years later. He eventually meets a girl (Keaton) and together they take down the dystopian government.

The futuristic society is a charm to spectate, with their orgasm-machines and their funny little cars. Allen of course delivers a great performance, putting on his expected caricature of a Jewish New Yorker we all know and love him for. The beautiful Diane Keaton also, as expected, does a fabulous job.
Diane Keaton: "Oh, I see. You don't believe in science, and you also don't believe that political systems work, and you don't believe in God, huh?"
Woody Allen: "Right."
Diane Keaton: "So then, what do you believe in?"
Woody Allen: "Sex and death. Two things that come once in a lifetime, but at least after death you're not nauseous."  
Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in Sleeper
The jokes here are pretty varied. Some are very situational, some play out like regular jokes, and a few are very slapstick, like Woody Allen being chased by police or hanging off the side of a building. It actually seems like Woody Allen made a bit of a nod to early film comedy with the sped up chase scenes, as was used in many films in the early 1900s. After all, Woody Allen was greatly inspired by the likes of Chaplin, Keaton, and the Marx Brothers. Though I can't say he really performs as well as they did.

The film isn't overly funny. You'll get a few laughs here and there, sometimes you'll feel bored, sometimes you'll find a joke unfunny. It's definitely not Woody's funniest. But it is a much watch for any Woody fans.

It's also an effective satire, poking fun at society (mostly 70s society) and not holding back. Younger viewers may not understand some of the references or jokes, but I didn't have any trouble and I wasn't alive in the 70s so there shouldn't be much of a problem.

Woody Allen stealing the leader's nose with a fake gun in Sleeper

Fans of science fiction, this is a comedy first and foremost. It's merely set in a futuristic world. It is fun to see all the absurd technology, like the robot butlers, and any fan of the genre will be greatly amused. But again, this is a Woody Allen comedy first so if you're not a Woody fan, or are a yet to be fan, I'd either pass or watch one of his better films first, i.e., Annie Hall

A fun time but nothing too outstanding.

3.5/5 stars
+Great for Woody Allen fans
+A fun science fiction setting
+A few good laughs
+Great on-screen chemistry
-Can be a bit stale at times
-Not the director's best work
-Slapstick is nowhere near as good as what it is influenced by

Purchase Sleeper on Amazon: DVD

1 comment:

  1. I found Sleeper painful to watch. Allen and Keaton argue. A lot. They're not funny. I could have lived without seeing this film.


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