The output of Woody Allen in the last two decades has teetered between some of the best and worst work in his career, and yet for the most part it’s been relatively steady in its insistence on a structure composed of his classic neurotic sensibility juxtaposed with his unique brand of intellectual romance, with the occasional supernatural element thrown in if the story demands it. However, for all of his success over the last 40 years, he hasn’t returned to the lands of truly slapstick comedy since the early 1970s with the likes of the amusing Sleeper. The things he’s done since then might be a bit classier and more in line with modern cinema, but there’s a charm to Sleeper and its sense of goofy absurdity that’s worth remembering and even reproducing today.
Unfrozen in a technologically advanced future, former health foods grocer and musician Miles Monroe (Allen) finds himself the key part in a plot to overthrow a despotic ruler intent on wiping away the last vestiges of a rebellious faction and imposing an order where the populace is kept in a subdued state of bliss and ignorance. Getting Miles to where he needs to be to help with that plan, however, proves difficult and through a series of misadventures he meets a god awful poet named Luna (Diane Keaton) who warms to him and eventually helps him carry out his role.
There’s a level of physical comedy to Sleeper you seldom see in a Woody Allen flick and it has elements of Benny Hill, the Three Stooges, and more encapsulating moments of Allen’s trademark self-deprecating wit with a Science-Fiction flourish. It’s silly. It’s fun. And it’s a film that could make a Woody Allen fan of just about anyone.
Blu-ray Bonus Features
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"Sleeper" is on sale January 15, 2013 and is rated PG. Comedy, Sci-Fi. Directed by Woody Allen. Written by Woody Allen, Marshall Brickman. Starring Diane Keaton, Woody Allen.