by Damian Cannon

Timeless slapstick fun, Woody Allen is a health freak put to sleep in 1973 and woken up 200 years later, to find himself a wanted man. In the year 2173 the State is all powerful, controlling individuals through a benign dictator. There are dissidents, of course, and they take the highly illegal step of reviving Miles Monroe (Woody Allen), a patient who was frozen after an ulcer operation. Dr. Orva (Bartlett Robinson) and Dr. Melik (Mary Gregory) unwrap Miles from his tin-foil and quickly have him staggering around like Frankenstein. Disorientated from the temporal journey, the doctors smuggle Miles to their futuristic home and explain the constraints of life in the 22nd Century. The beauty of their plan is that Miles has no computer recorded identity, therefore he can penetrate the State labs. However, Miles is an abject coward ("I'm even beaten up by Quakers.") and wants no part in their underground movement. The problem is that the police arrive and force Miles to flee, while the doctors are captured. The mini-helicopter he steals just makes him dizzy and, as respite, Miles hides in a robot repair van.

Donning a cyborg butler disguise, Miles is led into the home of Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton). A constant party-giver and amateur poet, Luna soon sets Miles to work - overlooking his jerky imitation of the other mechanoids and too-human features. Disaster and catastrophe occur as Miles battles with the electronic kitchen and guest serving, until he finally succumbs to the artificial pleasures of "The Orb". This unrobotic behaviour takes Miles into the robot workshop, from which he just manages to escape with his head intact. Spilling the whole tragic saga to Luna, she responds by screaming "Alien" and trying to have him arrested. After several close-calls with giant vegetables, Luna manages to contact the security forces. Unfortunately they decide to terminate her as well, after Luna's prolonged exposure to the alien. Realising her mistake, Miles and Luna manage to escape from the clutches of the clumsy Security personnel.

Finding a relic from the past, a VW Beetle which starts first time, the fugitives make their way to the house of Orva and Melik. Making themselves comfortable in the largely destroyed abode, Miles and Luna get round to discussing their respective sexual attitudes before the police arrive and break up the fun. Luna manages to escape while Miles hides in "The Orgasmatron". This turns out to be a bad move since, after the equivalent of numerous orgasms, a contented Miles is in no shape to run away. Brain-washing commences on the helpless Miles, in a bid to prepare him for release into society, while Luna starts living rough and winds up with the underground. Since the State has a devious plan to rid itself of all subversives, time is running out for the revolutionaries and they are impelled to rescue Miles.

Sleeper is an impressively inventive parody of self-important science fiction films which manages to hit contemporary targets with impressive aim. Painfully funny at times, the flood of physical humour, one-liners and gags is unrelenting. Playing up the contrasts of a future where smoking is actually good for you and the health-freak world of Miles, Allen and Brickman have produced a top-class script. The future is created to convincing effect with humanoid robots, giant vegetable farms and antagonistic machines (shades of 2001 and Chaplin). The anachronistic jazz score works surprisingly well, adding valuable energy to the many chase scenes. Sleeper moves fast, packs an incredible number (and range) of jokes, then leaves you wanting more. Watch with Dark Star and worry about the years to come!

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