A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 320 – Sleeper

Sleeper – January 14th, 2011

Perhaps tonight was a bad night to watch this movie. It’s been a very long day for me and I needed something that was not this. Perhaps I’m biased, after Play It Again, Sam grated on me so. I’m not sure. But I can say that this movie is not for me. It was not made with me in mind. It is not my taste and I did not enjoy it. Sorry, Woody Allen fans. Sorry, folks who think this is a fantastic and hilarious comedy. It just didn’t make me laugh.

Oh, I cracked a smile once or twice, usually due to a clever-but-not-dated line from Allen. But for the most part I felt like I was watching a science fiction Benny Hill episode, but without the breasts. I’ve never been big on Benny Hill, and not just because of the breasts. It just isn’t the sort of thing that makes me laugh. It’s not my sense of humor. So when the jazz started up in this movie, signaling another scene of wacky slapstick antics starring our bumbling non-hero, Miles, as he mucks up yet another bizarre and outlandish aspect of the future, or runs away from the equally bumbling cops, I tuned out. I couldn’t help it. Maybe it’s my aversion to Benny Hill, but that music just immediately makes me want to pay attention to something else. And a hefty chunk of the movie is that sort of stuff. Looking at the trivia for the movie, it seems that Allen originally conceived of it as a modern silent film. That makes the musical interlude bits make a lot more sense to me, though they still aren’t my cup of tea.

Aside from the slapstick, there’s a lot of what I believe is fairly typical Woody Allen babbling. Whenever there’s dialogue for him he’s rambling on about something, usually something dated and/or self-referential. It’s sort of like an on-going stand-up act, performed in the midst of a sci-fi plot. And to be honest, those are the bits I liked. I don’t dislike everything about Woody Allen. I just find his routine a little grating after a while. But sometimes he did have a bit or a line or a moment where it wasn’t too dated, or if it was it was still something understandable and amusing, and it would make me smile. But then there’d be more attempts at being zany. I guess I’m just not big on zany.

I can say I liked the concept for the movie, with a “modern” man being frozen and then woken up 200 years into the future, but with a comedic spin on it. None of it is particularly revolutionary, but the tobacco being healthy for you type stuff is fun. All the future gags play into my amusement with dated sci-fi and retro visions of the future. I thought the plot with Miles getting sent to join the resistance against the police state overlord and ending up a happy citizen was a little sloppily executed, but a good little satirical commentary at its core. But well, there’s a lot more tossed in there.

It’s not just the zaniness or the wackiness or the jazz slapstick antics. It’s the flustered yelling and flailing that happens when Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are both on screen, which feels to me so very self-indulgent, like they both were so convinced of their own ability to make such things happen that they just got in front of the camera and shouted a lot and called it done. It happens multiple times throughout the film and I kept feeling like I was watching rehearsals or outtakes. I kind of wish that Allen had been able to go with the original concept of a future world where no one could talk, making it actually silent, or close to. I’d have dealt with the jazz because it would have been a cleaner concept than this mix of stand-up, slapstick, musical hijinks, and shouting layered over some basic sci-fi.

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January 14, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , , ,

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