Sleeper (1973)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Slapstick, Comedy of Errors, Sci-Fi Comedy  |   Run Time - 88 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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Review by Mark Deming

Four years before his Oscar-winning breakthrough with Annie Hall, Woody Allen was still deep in absurdist humor, and, over the course of Sleeper's 88 minutes, he wins a beauty contest, kidnaps a nose, transforms into Blanche DuBois, impersonates a robot, is strangled by a giant tape machine, battles a glob of pudding, reveals the truth about Richard Nixon, and slips on a banana peel three times his size. On a belly-laugh scale, Sleeper is one of the most enjoyable works he's ever produced. While the humor is broad, it's hardly unintelligent, delving into political and social commentary, as Allen's Miles makes his way as the lone survivor of the 20th century. Diane Keaton plays second fiddle, but she's a good straight woman and begins to display the comic flair that would soon make her famous. This was the first movie to feature Allen's love of classic jazz; the up-tempo Dixieland score by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, with Allen on clarinet, plays a key role in propelling the movie's rip-roaring comic tempo. Woody Allen may have made more personal and moving films, but he rarely made one funnier than Sleeper.