Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Woody Allen "Sleeper" is zany future trip

Cleveland Press October 14, 1971

"Sleeper" is at the World East and World West. Comedy: adults. In the cast are Woody Allen, Diane Keaton. Running time: 85 minutes.

Another Woody Allen movie settled in at the World East and World West Theaters last night and the lines will be forming outside for weeks to come in spite of the weather.

Again he is star, writer and director and this picture is zanier than anything he has done.

The time is In the future in the year 2173 a capsule is found in which there is a man who was preserved through freezing back in 1973.

The doctors unwrap the body (it's been done up in aluminum foil) to reveal Woody Allen, glasses and all. Two hundred years earlier he had gone into the hospital for a routine check of his peptic ulcer. There were complications and he never recovered so a cousin had him frozen.

"I knew it was too good to be true," he complains.; "I had a parking spot right next to the hospital"

A onetime proprietor of a health food store and clarinetist in a jazz band, Allen finds himself in a society in which the state takes care of everything and brainwashes dissidents. There are robots for servants, machines for sex and Allen -- a nervous type anyway -- is ready to go to pieces.

You don't follow a Woody Allen movie. You hang on and hope for the best. And while the picture begins to wind down toward the end it starts on such a high note of hilarity that it is still pretty funny 85 minutes later.

Being able to be nostalgic about 1973 allows Allen to have fun with the current scene, to describe today's celebrities 200 years later:

"Normen Mailer-he donated his ego to Harvard Medical School.

"Billy Graham -- big in religious circles. He knew God personally.

"De Gaulle -- a French chef, had his own TV show.

"Howard Cosell-people who performed a crime against the state were forced to watch him."

Allen is recruited to join the underground since he has no identity.

"I'm not the heroic type," he protests. "I was beaten up by Quakers."

When the police close in he escapes disguised as a robot, finds employment with Diane Keaton, which allows him to get back to his favorite subject -- sex.

Allen has backed his film with a score by the New Orleans Preservation Hall band and the dated jazz beautifully complements the futuristic comedy. He stages some Keystone Cops type of chases and he has the routine down to a brief and hilarious science.

The gags come fast, some times suffer from the usual Allen maladies of being strained or showing lapses in taste.

One of the best realize bits has Allen and Miss Keaton playing a brief seen from "A Streetcar Name Desire." He plays Blanche and she's Stanley in the best Marlon Brando manner.

You can't figure out where that fits into the movie? Don't try.