Yakety Sax. A man from the 70’s (Woody Allen) is revived 200 year in the future to find himself a wanted man from a fascist government, and he may just be the spark needed to ignite a revolution. This is the 10th Woody Allen movie I’ve had the pleasure of viewing, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen one of his movies that is quite like this one. When you hear the name Woody Allen, what do you think of?
Smart, self-deprecating, and heartfelt are adjectives that probably come to mind when describing his movies, but one description that you probably wouldn’t think to mention is slapstick. This isn’t just physical in the sense of somebody slipping on a banana peel, it’s a wipe out on a gigantic banana peel, and Sleeper breaches the Benny Hill realm of comedy.
Now I would say I prefer his high-brow material; give me Annie Hall, Manhattan or The Purple Rose of Cairo over this any day of the week, no questions asked. Not to say that this isn’t without merit, mind you, it’s just that his other movies appeal more to me just as somebody who watches movies. I do give credit for auteurs trying something new and different, and this came out very early in his career, so it’s a movie that he probably needed to make so as to find his voice as a comedian, which therefore makes this necessary. I would go so far to say that this is a product of its time; there are a number of jokes pertaining to the 1970’s that date it, but it is such a goofy spoof, anybody should be able to get into it. While this may not be my type of humor per se, there is still good stuff to be found. The uptempo music is great, and while it may be sillier and more frantic than his more famous movies, it’s still a noteworthy element. Some of the jokes work better than others, and I would say that the Streetcar Named Desire bit is the standout gag in the film. This is a light farce that follows your standard fish out of water template, and you are sure to at least get some chuckles out of it, it really depends on what type of humor strikes your fancy. If anything, this is worth watching so you can witness the masquerading side of Woody Allen that you’ve never seen before.
Sleeper (1973) ***
– Critic for Hire