Sleeper

Sleeper. Rollins-Joffe Productions 1973.

Before watching the movie:

 

It occurs to me that I may not have actually seen any Woody Allen film before. I’ve seen him perform before, though possibly the only thing I’ve seen longer than a clip of is Antz.

That aside, once again I only realize at the moment I have to sum up my preconceptions that I don’t know what I’m getting into again. It sounds somewhat raunchy, but every adult comedy at the time was at least a little raunchy. For what it’s worth, it got a PG.

Ultimately, what I can say is that Woody Allen”s character finds himself in a future which no doubt is designed to be a satire on the world of its time.

After watching the movie:

Miles Monroe, a health food store owner from 1970s Manhattan, dead and cryogenically frozen for 200 years, being awakened by rebels against the typical rule-by-sating-the-people corrupt dystopia, for the purposes of having a non-cataloged ally who can infiltrate government installations and determine what the goal of the Aries Project is. He finds a world where everyone is barely educated and completely docile due to their servant robots, Telescreens, drug-replacing Orbs, and and Orgasmatrons. In escaping from the police, he throws himself on the kindness of Luna, a citizen who promptly tries to turn him in, but is nearly killed for being “contaminated” by his worldviews. The two escape and seek out the Underground, but are eventually separated. Miles is captured and brainwashed, but Luna reaches the Underground and is re-educated. Eventually, Luna is fully integrated into the Communist freedom fighters and Miles is completely doped into the Capitalist mold. Luna and the Underground rescue Miles, but still have to find out what the Aries Project is.

I never expected to see so much physical comedy in a Woody Allen movie. From the opening sequence when Miles is barely functional after resuscitation all the way through the Aries Project infiltration, there are many stops for slapstick or other physical gags. I always thought of Woody Allen as a more verbal comic uninterested or incapable of such gags. But he plays them hilariously. Coupled with the ragtime score, I get the idea I’m supposed to often be reminded of the Keystone Kops.

Diane Keaton’s performance surprised me. She’s a well-known actress of course, but she’s the first in a line of “women Woody Allen put in his movies because he was dating them.” Nevertheless, she comes off as dumb without being a stereotype. She’s just honestly been poorly educated, too sated to get much experience thinking. It’s refreshing to see a character whose chief attribute is unintelligence in a comedy and still be able to beat a box of rocks at chess.

This film was made when it was in style to make dire predictions about the Capitalist /Communist conflict, and paint dystopian futures where the government keeps the people under control by keeping them unnaturally happy. But these are plot elements I’ve grown tired of. Why do these governments have to be based in one economic system or the other? The Underground didn’t seem very Marxist, and I didn’t see much buying of things in the Leader’s regime. As for the satisfied sheep, Brave New World did it, and this movie didn’t put any sort of twist on it, but more or less aped it wholesale. On a side note, the ragtime music didn’t fit the movie I was expecting, but it fit the movie I got.

 

Watch this movie: for Woody Allan pratfalls

Don’t watch this movie: for any unique message

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