(2000) - MGM/United Artists
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): C/C-/D
Specs and Features
87 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (1.85:1), 16x9 enhanced (on
Side A), full frame (1.33:1) (on Side B), dual-sided,
single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical trailer,
film-themed menu screens, scene access (24 chapters), languages:
English and Spanish (DD 2.0 mono), subtitles: French and Spanish,
sex? Uh, uh, I don't think I'm up to a performance, but I'll
rehearse with you, if you like."
Imagine if you will a preteen Graham Greenlee flipping around
television late one Saturday night (Hey... Nickelodeon had just gone
off the air for the night). Suddenly, he stops on a late night movie
featuring some weird guy with black-framed glasses wearing a tin
foil suit. That in and of itself is pretty cool for a ten year-old.
And as he watches the whole film, laughing throughout, he first
begins to consider being a filmmaker.
My introduction to Woody Allen was a great one. Even at ten, I fell
in love with Woody's humor and technique. Sleeper
really did push me into being a filmmaker, because it's a film that
is so well crafted, well performed, and just plain hilarious. But
enough about me, if you haven't heard of Sleeper
before, here's a brief synopsis of what the American Film Institute
calls the 80th funniest film of all time:
Woody Allen plays Miles Monroe, a man who was cryogenically frozen
without his knowledge back in 1973 and is reawakened 200 years
later. Alas, the world is quite a bit different. The government
regulates every part of everyday life, people have sex using
machines, food is grown to giant proportions and smoking is actually
proven to be good for your health.
But Miles was brought back illegally by scientists working for a
Marxist underground group plotting the overthrow of the totalitarian
government, and is soon a fugitive from the law, searching for the
leader of the rebels. After he runs into a snotty, arrogant poet
(Diane Keaton), and inadvertently takes her hostage, they begin a
journey that will take them to the end of the country and find them
holding a president's nose hostage.
Sleeper is perhaps Woody's
broadest comedy. With this film, Woody experiments with the silent
film to the same great result as he experimented with the period
drama in Love and Death or the
Greek chorus in Mighty Aphrodite.
A lot of the verbal humor is quite dated, but the physical humor is
timeless. And no matter how zany Sleeper
gets, it's pulled together by the great chemistry between Woody and
Diane. And with both in the same film, how could you think they
wouldn't fall in love with each other.
Like all of Woody's other DVDs, this one is a bit of a clunker.
While I thought the video transfer was a bit better than the one on
the Annie Hall disc, it still
has its flaws. The film looks soft and grain is noticeable through
the whole film. The print isn't in great condition, but Woody's
prints rarely are. The sound is much the same. It's in mono, as all
of Woody's films are, and was poorly recorded to begin with. It's
about as good as it's going to get.
And extras-wise, we get a non-anamorphic trailer that looks about
the same as the rest of the film, quality-wise.
Though the disc is very lackluster, the film is an undeniable
classic. If you haven't seen it already, what are you waiting for?
Even if you're not a Woody Allen fan, the physical humor will keep
you entertained. Sleeper is
one of Woody's best, and my personal favorite.