WOODY ALLEN FILMS

SLEEPER

I think this is the first Woody Allen film that I ever watched. It was either this or Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask). Either way, I saw it as a kid and have been a fan of Allen’s ever since. Released in 1973, and co-written by Marshall Brickman, it takes place in the year 2173. Woody stars as Miles Monroe, a health food store owner who had been cryogenically frozen after a nearly fatal accident occurred during minor surgery. He’s revived in the future by a group of scientists. It seems that America of the future is now a police-state, run by mysterious dictator known only as “The Leader.” These scientist are part of a rebel underground who are trying to overthrow The Leader and his fascist government, and they’ve revived Miles to help with their plan, since he’ll be the only person in their time who doesn’t have a mandatory government ID.

Woody plays Miles as one of his signature neurotic roles, and he is shocked by this turn of events, and doesn’t adapt very easily. There’s a funny sequence where he’s being interviewed about various historical artifacts, trying to explain to the scientists who Richard Nixon was or what Playboy Magazine was for. Then quickly the authorities arrive and the scientists are arrested, and Miles is forced to run for his life. Through an odd sequence of circumstances, Miles ends up disguised as a robot butler who is sent to live with a rich woman named Luna, played by Diane Keaton. At first Miles tries to keep up the charade, and acts as the butler while Luna throws a party. Eventually he reveals his true identity to her, and tries to enlist her in his mission against The Leader, but she is a devoted member of society and threatens to turn him in. Later the roles reverse as Miles is captured and brainwashed into becoming a peaceful member of society, but then Luna joins with a group of rebels and they rescue Miles and un-brainwash him.

Eventually the rebels, lead by Miles and Luna, break into a secret government facility and discover the truth, which is that The Leader was killed in an explosion earlier, and all that is left of him is his nose, which government scientists plan to use to clone him. So it’s up to Miles and Luno to find and destroy the nose before the operation. If that sounds silly, it is. The whole film has a very slapstick feel to it, in the vein of old Abbot and Costello films, but with a updated modern spin. Through Miles’ reactions to this future society Woody is able to make several observations that could be seen as biting critiques of the culture of the (then modern) era. This is one of Woody’s best films. FIVE STARS

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON

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