"Sleeper" sees Woody Allen at his most cheerful and his most slap-stick. The gags in the movie range from intellectual to physical and back including a suit that expands to make Allen look like a mini-elephant, giant fruit, and a recreation of "A Streetcar Named Desire".
The movie begins in 2173 where (or rather when) a few scientists find a man who has been cryogenically frozen for 200 years. They decide, though it is highly illegal, to unfreeze the man and then get him to help them out in their quest for rebellion and democracy.
Miles Monroe (Allen) is unfrozen and then helped regain his full motor skill. He went into the hospital for an ulcer and woke up 200 years later—that's bound to have an effect on you. What's the most interesting about "Sleeper" is how the world has changed since Miles has been away. Governments have shifted, enemies were made, and all history of the 70s was essentially lost in the pandemonium that follows. Unhealthy food has been proven as healthy and cigarettes are good for you.
Miles is used to help the scientists better understand what life was like in the 70s, as well as further their rebellious cause. Ruled by a Big Brother type character, the United States is no longer the United States. Not fully comprehending why everyone wants the head-honcho guy dispatched, Miles is roped into aiding...it's that or have his mind erased by the government.
A movie that's a strongly anti-government as it is funny, it's amazing that "Sleeper" never feels genuinely satirical and for that, I am disappointed. Though it has all the right arrows pointing at all the right moments, it never releases their full potential. Maybe it's the slapstick and causes this, "Sleeper" is punctuated with a very fun and jazzy score that Allen himself helped create.
Miles seems somewhat autobiographical of Allen himself: he loves New York, he is undersexed, and he grew up as a clarinet player.
Posing as a robot/butler, Miles gets assigned to the artistic Luna (long time collaborator Diane Keaton). In one night he manages to create a pudding monster, get high of a metal orb, and witness Luna and a gentleman retreat to the orgasmatron where they have the quickest coitus imaginable.
"Sleeper" is raunchy, edgy, but smarter than all its other facets.
This is probably best evidenced in the scenes where Miles is talking about his philosophical beliefs. But make no mistake that "Sleeper" has a large dosage of stupid fun. Imagine Woody Allen and a stereotypical 'bad guy' slipping on giant banana peels and then Allen bludgeoning the man senseless with a huge strawberry...it's not every day you see that in a movie.
That's why I like "Sleeper"; not for its political commentary or its neuroticism, or the way it dances between genres. I like it because it's a whole lot of fun and memorable in the best ways.
Posted by Micah Jones