It had to happen sooner or later. I would have to watch a Woody Allen movie. I’ve never been a fan, I just don’t find him that funny, and this entry on the 101 Sci-Fi Movies list seems to support that belief, with one of the first films I’ve been truly disappointed with on the list. I went into the film with an open mind, because a number of people I call friends, and admire deeply praise Allen’s work, and this being a new year, I figured, yup, let’s give him a fair shake…
Nope. Didn’t work for me.
Sleeper follows the tale of Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) a nutritional/organics shop owner in 1973, who was frozen when an error in a simple surgery occurred and is discovered and re-animated 200 years later in 2173. It seems in this rather bizarre police state that now exists, every one is numbered and identifiable, so they need someone unknown to the system to help the Underground movement to stop The Leader and restore a human balance to society.
Alright fair enough.
However, for me most of the comedy just didn’t seem to work, and it just felt like Allen was trying to hard to be funny, mugging for the camera, and ‘witty’ jibes, admittedly a couple made me laugh, but more often than not I sat and shook my head in silence. His character is mentioned as playing clarinet in a ragtime jazz band, which then allows for the rag and jazzy soundtrack, which is used for chases around tables, or the keystone cops escapades of the Federation Security that are in pursuit of Miles and Luna (Diane Keaton). You could call it an homage to those earlier films, but it just felt like outright theft to me.
In the end, after brain-washing, and counter-brain-washing, including a side-trip into A Streetcar Named Desire, Miles and Lune fight to save society, by carrying out a plan to stop The Leader from being cloned. It seems he was involved in a terrible attack by the Underground and all that’s left of him is his nose.
There are some interesting moments, there is the hydro-vac suit, the giant fruits and vegetables in the garden, but more often than not I was left rather nonplussed by the sight gags, the pratfalls, the mugging, and the dialogue.
I have a hard time believing that the Underground would have ever had any problems overthrowing the Leader and his police state government when every example of the forces of that government we saw were a complete non-threat – unless, of course, everyone in the future is just that stupid. Possible I guess.
But I just couldn’t get into it.
I think that’s the only Woody Allen film I have to deal with for a while, though I am sure Annie Hall is probably hiding on a list or two I have to work my way through. I’ll watch it, I’ll even watch it with an open mind, because I love my friends, but after this one… I’m not getting my hopes up.
Bring on the Sci-Fi of the late 70s and the 80s! That will be wicked awesome fun!