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review added: 8/6/02



Sleeper
1973 (2000) - MGM/United Artists

review by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits

Enhanced for 16x9 TVs

Sleeper Film Rating: A-

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, Closed Captioned



"Perform 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.

Graham Greenlee
grahamgreenlee@thedigitalbits.com




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