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.Written by
John Vogel <email@example.com>
Sleeper is a comedy with one of the wittiest premises I've ever seen. It is a comedy about life in the 22nd century through a neurotic Jewish Brooklynite's cynical eyes. No matter how different things are in the future, his perspective doesn't change, his wry sense of humor stays the same, happily misplaced ragtime music plays over the movie, and old-fashioned sight gags are employed complete with the occasional stepped-up film speed.
Allen has always done well playing virtually the same character in all of his movies, but his talent as an on screen comedian is milestoned in this performance. He has the brilliance to mock even the most elusive and unnoticed physical conventions of screen acting, for instance his whispering to Diane Keaton while they pose as doctors in the presence of several people close by. It's a nitpicky sense of humor that contributes greatly to the intelligence behind all of his manic goofiness.
Diane Keaton is his match, however, whereas most of his leading ladies usually aren't. In fact, I hold Diane Keaton's performance in Sleeper as her crowning achievement so far that I've seen of her, even beyond her work in the Godfather films. She delivers great laughs. Her highlight is in what is possibly the funniest scene in the entire film, which eventually involves her doing an impression of Marlon Brando. Who would think that Diane Keaton would deliver the most convincing and dead-on Brando impression one has ever seen. While we're on the subject of that particular part of that hysterical scene that I will preserve for you to see for yourself, I must say that most people, even some of the most talented comedians and office/class clowns can hardly come close to mimicking Brando's voice, expressions and mannerisms. Diane Keaton somehow nails it. In Sleeper, she gives one of the funniest performances I've ever seen from an actress. She and Allen are truly one of the funniest comic pairs I've ever seen in a movie.
What makes Sleeper so funny is not just the physical comedy but the out-of-the-box, completely unorthodox creativity behind all of the physical comedy. There is a scene where someone slips on a banana peel. But the banana peel is the size of a canoe, as is the banana and all of the electronically preserved fruits and vegetables in this particular place, and Allen is being chased by a futuristic cop and both of them are slipping repeatedly on the peel. The film has robot butlers and maids of the future, and gradually throughout the film some are introduced as robots programmed to act and speak like effeminate gay men and Brooklyn Jewish stereotypes. There is also a great amount of intellectualism and cultural knowledge in even the zaniest of humorous moments in Sleeper, and that is what makes it one of Woody Allen's funniest films and a work of true comic genius.
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