Sleeper

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Miles Monroe (Woody Allen), a jazz musician and owner of the ‘Happy Carrot’ Health-Food store in 1973, is subjected to cryopreservation without his consent, and not revived for 200 years. The scientists who revive him are members of a rebellion: 22nd-century America seems to be a police state ruled by a dictator about to implement a secret plan known as the “Aires Project”. The rebels hope to use Miles as a spy to infiltrate the Aires Project, because he is the only member of this society without a known biometric identity.

The authorities discover the scientists’ project, and arrest them. Miles escapes by disguising himself as a robot, and goes to work as a butler in the house of socialite Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton). When Luna decides to have his head replaced with something more “aesthetically pleasing,” Miles reveals his true identity to her; whereupon Luna threatens to give Miles to the authorities. In response, he kidnaps her and goes on the run, searching for the Aires Project.

Miles and Luna fall in love; but Miles is captured and brainwashed into a complacent member of the society, while Luna joins the rebellion. The rebels kidnap Miles and force reverse-brainwashing, whereupon he remembers his past and joins their efforts. Miles becomes jealous when he catches Luna kissing the rebel leader, Erno Windt (John Beck), and she tells him that she believes in free love.

Miles and Luna infiltrate the Aires Project, wherein they quickly learn that the national leader had been killed by a rebel bomb ten months previously. All that survives is his nose. Other members of the Aires Project, mistaking Miles and Luna for doctors, expect them to clone the leader from this single remaining part. Miles steals the nose and “assassinates” it by dropping it in the path of a steamroller.

After escaping, Miles and Luna debate their future together. He tells her that Erno will inevitably become as corrupt as the Leader. Miles and Luna confess their love for one another, but she claims that science has proven men and women cannot have meaningful relationships due to chemical incompatibilities. Miles dismisses this, saying that he does not believe in science, and Luna points out that he does not believe in God or political systems either. Luna asks Miles if there is anything he does believe in, and he responds with the famous line, “Sex and death. Two things that come once in a lifetime. But at least after death you’re not nauseous.” The film ends as the two embrace.

REVIEW:

Woody Allen is a great filmmaker, but the one film of his that I’ve seen, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, I can barely remember anything about. To rectify this little issue, I decided to check out one of Allen’s more popular and, judging by reviews and reactions, funniest film, Sleeper. Would I be laughing or half asleep when all is over, though?

What is this about?

Health-food store owner Miles Monroe (Woody Allen, who also directs) bites the dust in 1973 and ends up cryogenically frozen, only to be defrosted in a dystopian future in which people pleasure themselves with an “orgasmatron” and dissidents’ brains are “electronically simplified.” Upon becoming a hunted man, Miles masquerades as an android butler in the home of a self-indulgent poet (Diane Keaton) — but the ruse doesn’t last.

What did I like?

Future. Well, it is back to the future for the second time this week, following the trip Beyond the Time Barrier on Tuesday. This future isn’t as dark and depressing. As a matter of fact, it is quite bright and hopeful. It almost seems, dare I say, normal. The drawback is the cops that pretty much don’t allow for independent thought. Other than them, this was actually an enjoyable future that I wouldn’t mind living in, perhaps.

Ragtime. It is established early on that Woody Allen’s character was a jazz clarinet player. You would think this is nothing more than a trivial fact. He doesn’t play clarinet anywhere in the film that I noticed, but he does pull it out and starts to put one together. The music that Allen chose for the film, mostly ragtime jazz, showcases the clarinet, and was played by the Preservation Hall jazz band out of New Orleans.

Chemistry. Two people I would never picture together in a billion years are Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. Why is that? I honestly can’t tell you. I do know that they just don’t strike m as a couple that would hit it off. I guess I can be wrong, because the chemistry between these two is magnetic, which is saying something since Allen’s first introduction to her is as a plastic robot.

What didn’t I like?

Foil. What kind of doctor would wrap a patient in foil? I ask because when they discover Woody Allen’s character, he is wrapped in foil. Yes, I said foil. Perhaps this was for comedic effect, at least that is my hops because, damn! First of all, foil doesn’t keep things fresh that long, especially 200 yrs! Second, if he was still alive at the time he went under for the procedure, why would he need to have been wrapped up anyway?

So close. It is amazing to me how close this society and its views mirror the way we seem to be leaning more and more. I enjoyed the ironic statements such as tobacco and steak being healthier than vegetables and such. With that in mind, though, it is kind of eerie that a film made in 1972 can get things so close to they way they are today. I forgot what year this supposed to be set in, but it would be interesting if that is the way we will be living when that time comes.

Forget the funny. A huge pet peeve of mine when it comes to movies is when a comedy forget that it is a comedy in the last act. Guess what this film does? Yep, you guessed it! The last act is nothing more than a drama. All the slapstick comedy that was prevalent in the rest of the film, which really allowed Allen to shine, was replaced with philosophical ramblings that no one really cares about or can relate to, and for what reason? I do not know, but it really lost me, and I’m sure other viewers would feel the same.

Sleeper for the most part is a great funny film that people not familiar with the work of Woody Allen, like myself, are familiar with, which is a shame, really. 90% of this film is an absolute delight to see. Allen is at the top of his game as a neurotic Jewish nerd, and even manages to bring in his love for the clarinet. The only thing missing was that this wasn’t set in New York City, as far as I know. So, do I recommend this? Eh, I suppose, but it isn’t a strong recommendation. I think I need to watch this again before I can say for sure, but based on this viewing I say sure, why not? Go ahead and give it a shot!

3 out of 5 stars

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