"Woody Allen pulls out all the comic stops here, utilizing everything from Orwellian social satire, sci-fi movie parody, Harold Lloyd-style pratfalls,and a scene involving giant fruits and vegetables that has to be the funniest sight gag ever committed to celluoid. The one or two minutes of screen time involving the "Orgasmatron" alone is funnier than all the gags combined in any entire Farrelley brothers or Jim Carrey movie you'd care to name. By the way, am I the only person who noticed that the 1993 Sylvester Stallone film "Demolition Man" ripped off at least a half dozen comic premises directly from "Sleeper"? Granted, the "Rip Van Winkle" concept wasn't invented by Allen,but still...the gag about junk food being considered health food in the future--(just for starters) that's too specific to be coincidence! Oh well,there hasn't been an original thought in Hollywood since the mid-70's anyway- so why should we lose sleep, eh? Don't miss this 'sleeper'!"
Superior Parody, Physical Comedy, and 'Borrowings'
B. Marold | Bethlehem, PA United States | 05/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"`Sleeper' is the only Woody Allen work where in addition to acting, writing, and directing, he also contributes to the music by playing clarinet in the band performing on the sound track. This is his fourth triple credit movie and I believe it may be one of his better movies before `Annie Hall', which is still two movies into the future. Unlike `Bananas' and `All you ever wanted to know about Sex...', it seems to have more and better satire than simple parody, although there is parody and homage to famous comedic bits aplenty here. The most memorable `quote' is when Allen apes the famous Marx brothers routine where Groucho thinks he is seeing himself in a floor length mirror, but he is actually seeing Harpo dressed to imitate Groucho and aping every move he makes to keep the mirror image illusion.
One piece of satire that has actually improved in value over the last 25 years is the conceit that everything that was once thought to be bad for you, such as smoking, is now actually believed to be good for you. All you have to do is think back to the fate of eggs, fats, potatoes, and wine to realize that this gag is perilously close to the truth in a lot of cases.
This movie does not have the long `guest star' list or even a lot of the Allen stock company regulars as we see in `All you ever wanted to know about Sex...' or `Bananas'. The only cameo of note is a brief simulated telecast by Howard Cosell. Virtually the entire movie is carried on the backs of Allen's performance and, to a much lesser extent, the fairly ordinary performance from Diane Keaton. Not much of the great work we will later see in `Annie Hall'. But then, Allen isn't writing for drama or character development. All we get is setup, setup, setup, gag, follow-up, setup, setup,...and so on. The whole story is a great big setup for comic effect.
The story is that Allen goes into the hospital in 1976 for a simple procedure and is put into a cryogenic sleep. His cryogenic capsule is discovered 200 years later by a team of scientists who decide to awaken him and set him off to help overthrow a dictator because there is no trace of his identity.
Early in the movie, Allen shows off how really very good he is at physical comedy, much in the tradition of Charlie Chaplin, W.C. Fields, and the Marx brothers, although except for a bit here and there, it is never entirely clear that he is imitating any of these precursors.
If this owes anything to any other movie, it is probably `Fahrenheit 451', the film with Oskar Werner and Julie Christie made of the Ray Bradbury novel.
I am partial to Allen's later films, especially `Manhattan', `Stardust Memories', and `Hannah and Her Sisters', but I believe this is one of his two or three best before `Annie Hall', better than `Bananas' and `All you ever wanted to know about Sex...'.
Recommended for some great jokes and some really great physical gags. "
Powerful and funny
Jessica | The Bay State | 03/05/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I'm normally not a futuristic, sci-fi fan, so I was a little reclutant to see this DVD version. I was sure it would be yet another film ripping off earlier films' special effects, as so many sci-fi films do today. Boy, was I wrong with this certain dvd version! It's a little hard to believe that this film was made in 1973. It possesses orginality, creativity, and the simple ability to make you laugh. A few of my main favorite scenes are the "Orgasmatron", which really had me laughing! The one when Keaton's character, Luna, coerces Allen's character, Miles, into this spacesuit-like costume and pulls the cord that blows it up and has Allen flying around--many people might not like this certain scene, because it doesn't require Allen's verbal wit-- but it was incredibly funny because he looked so ridiculous. I especially love the scene when Miles thinks he's Blanche Dubois and Luna has to become Stanley Kowalski in order to gently steer him back to reality. Allen was good as Vivien Leigh's Blanche, but Keaton was really wonderful as Marlon Brando's Stanley. This is an especially esoteric movie, because some people may not realize that one of Allen's goals for this movie was to satirize everything in the 1970's, including essential politicians. (Check out one of the earliest scenes, when Miles explains people that were important in the 1970's, such as Reagan and Nixon. This is one of the reasons why I like this movie so much. I don't have any complaints with this movie. Although, I did wonder whether Miles would choose to stay in the future with Luna, or have himself crygonically preserved again in the hopes that he'll wake up in another era that he actually likes. On a more materialistic note, I can't get over how young Allen looks in this movie! He actually looks good. And I can't believe how beautiful Keaton is! They really worked well together in this movie. I highly recommend this DVD version~don't miss it!"
The "party scene" is enough to make this a classic in itself
B. Marold | 08/19/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Retro-cool, low budget, futuristic and ultra-chic, this comedy has it all. Not the typical Woody Allen film, and Allen is not for the typical audience, so the title is fitting. It's a glimpse of what Woody Allen USED to be ie "Without Feathers" and Take the Money & Run, but in his one attempt at science fiction. I'm definitely a Woody Allen fan yet there are a few of his films I will not watch. Annie Hall is my number 1, after that Manhattan, Hannah & Her Sisters (I've seen this one 10 times I think), but Sleeper is in a class by itself, so it's usually overlooked by most fans. To enjoy this film: relax, look for cheap yet clever special effects, the coolest sets, wardrobes, and dispositions you can ask for. The gay scene is hilarious. The party Diane Keaton throws could be the prototype of a subculture in itself. How this film has eluded cult status I do not know."
One of Woody Allen's funniest films
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 06/02/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This isn't necessarily Woody Allen's best film, but to me it is his funniest. Most people see ANNIE HALL as the dividing line between early and late Woody Allen. Through ANNIE HALL, he was concerned with creating laughs, lots of laughs. But ANNIE HALL also brought a more mature technique in filmmaking, and with each film after it, there was less and less a concern that the audience laugh at a new joke every few minutes. Personally, I like to laugh, and I am not alone in preferring Woody's earlier to his later films.The plot is akin to Rip Van Winkle. Miles Monroe is a health food storeowner who is frozen following unsuccessful surgery, to be reawakened two hundred years in the future. Most of the jokes in the film result from his experiences first from being reawakened and then acquainted with the world of the future. He is accidentally thrown together with a woman played by Diane Keaton, and eventually they are forced by circumstances to embrace the rebellion by the Big Brother type of totalitarianism controlling society. The humor is a bit more slapstick than in much Woody Allen, though there are a wealth of one-liners. There are some wonderful absurdities, such as the ridiculous mechanized pet dog that Miles is given after his rehabilitation. And who could ever forget the Orgasmatron? Or the giant vegetable patch? Or the hysterical cameo narration by Douglas Rain, who also provided the voice for HAL in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY?I continue to enjoy Woody Allen's films, and have, I guess, seen every movie he has ever made. But I do so with mildly dwindling interest, and considerable regret that he no longer tries to make me laugh so hard I injure my rib cage."