Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sleeper (1972)

I'd rather sleep than watch Sleeper again.

This early Woody Allen film is more annoying than funny. The good news for movie-goers forced to watch this film is it just runs 89 minutes. For this, we give thanks.

Miles Monroe (Allen) is revived in 2173 after being frozen for 200 years following a botched ulcer operation. That just doesn't seem fair for a guy who ran his own health food store in New York City.

America is no longer the home of the free. Instead, there's an oppressive government that's clamping down on all dissidents. Doctors associated with the freedom movement are counting on Monroe, who said tyrannical rulers have no knowledge of, to bring freedom to the nation.

Monroe posses as a domestic robot to escape security forces. He's assigned to serve Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton), a poet whose work is better left unread. He reveals his identity to Luna. She turns him in before having a change of heart.

Miles fights the good fight for the resistance and ends up face-to-nose with the country's dictator. Little hilarity ensues.

Monroe and Schlosser fight. A lot. It gets tiring to listen to them.

Sleeper offers up many chase scenes accompanied by a lively jazz score. Some are funny. Monroe squares off with an opponent in a giant vegetable patch. They both keep slipping on a really big banana peel. That's cute. Too often there's little laugh payoff. Sigh.

Woody delivers some solid lines. He's surprised all his friends are dead ("But they all ate organic rice.") and describes how a wimp like him wouldn't help the resistance very much ("I was beaten up by Quakers."). Many of the jokes fall flat when he's asked to describe persons associated with the early 1970s, including disgraced American president Richard Nixon and sports broadcaster Howard Cosell.

Woody, you've made some fine films. Sleeper is definitely not one of them.

RATING: 4/10

FUN FACTS: Jessica Rains is the daughter of movie great Claude Rains. Her credits run from 1971 to 1984.

Sleeper marks the debut of Spencer Milligan. He may be best known as Park Ranger Rick Marshall in television's Land of the Lost.

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