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Film: Sleeper

1973 film starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton, wherein Woody Allen plays the role of Miles Monroe, a jazz musician who is accidentally frozen (with tinfoil for freshness) for two hundred years, waking in the year 2173. He is drafted by the scientists who wake him, as he's the only man in the world who hasn't been scanned and cataloged by the globe-spanning dictatorship of "The Leader".

Miles disguises himself as a robot to escape his pursuers, falls in love with a future woman, gets brainwashed, wins the Miss America pageant, and topples the world government with the help of his new girlfriend, wacky disguises, and a steamroller.

It spoofs similar sci-fi and suspense films, future tech, and social standards of the time to great effect. It's based on H. G. Wells novel The Sleeper Awakes, and while it seems to be loosely based on the book at face value, it's just as satirical and insightful.


This film provides examples of:

  • Banana Peel: Super economy size peels result in lots and lots of slipping.
  • Brainwashed/Deprogram: Parodied as with everything else; Miles is subject to brainwashing to make him conform, and Luna must deprogram him. The deprogramming process, however, goes through a number of different personalities until it ends up being an impromptu performance of A Streetcar Named Desire. With Miles as Blanche and Luna as Stanley.
  • Confessional: A computerized parody version.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Watching a video of Howard Cosell is the worst punishment known to 2173. Miles of 1973 agrees wholeheartedly.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon:
    Miles: You sit here. I'll go find us something, and don't try anything funny while I'm gone, 'cause you know what you'll get.
    Luna: What?
    Miles: What? W-w-what will you get? Uh, a ... large and painful hickey!
    • His next line of dialog?
      "My God... I beat a man sensible with a strawberry!"
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: The idea of two people having sex is alien to the people, as they've had machines to... do it for them, as it were.
    Luna: Do you want to perform sex with me?
    Miles: Perform sex? I-i-i-i don't think I'm up for a performance, but I'll rehearse with you if you like.
  • Electric Instant Gratification.
    Miles: (refusing to get into the Orgasmatron) Machine?! I'm not getting into that thing. I'm strictly a hand operator. I don't like anything with moving parts that aren't my own.
    (Of course, when Miles hides in an activated Orgasmatron, he comes out ... excessively pleased.)
  • Everything Is An I Pod In The Future: Thanks to an homage to THX 1138 homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  • Exty Years from Now: Miles is out for precisely 200 years.
  • Fantastic Drug: "Orb"—a silver sphere that makes the handler feel giddy and laugh uncontrollably when it's touched or rubbed. Great for parties.
  • Future Imperfect: The scientists knowledge of the past is limited and comes from old tapes of Howard Cosell. They seek to learn more by asking a Woody Allen character which one supposes is an improvement.
    • Art in this future is influenced by big-eye-kid painter Walter Keane - "Keane" is in fact the descriptive term for a brilliant work.
  • Giant Food: Advances in agriculture result in comically immense fruits and veggies.
  • Glorious Leader: The Leader, naturally. At least, his nose.
  • Helicopter Pack: After his attempt to use a Jet Pack fails (see below), Miles puts on and uses a helicopter backpack.
  • Homage: Woody Allen wanted to do a Charlie Chaplin-styled movie. Sleeper was to be a silent film; instead, the film has a lot of slapstick comedy with no dialog. Allen also did something only Chaplin did: write, direct, star, produce, and write and perform the music in the soundtrack.
  • Human Popsicle: This is how Miles ends up in 2173 in the first place.
  • Jet Pack: Miles tries to use one to escape the security police, but it takes off without him.
  • Mythology Gag: Luna's rebel song is identical to Esposito's from Bananas: "Rebels are we! Born to be free - just like the fish in the sea!"
  • Naked Apron: On a male butler, no less.
  • Noodle Incident:
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Miles as a robot, as seen in the Trope Image.
  • Putting on the Reich: The US government has turned into a fascist, totalitarian state.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: A Running Gag involves a different part of a laser cannon blowing up every time they try to fire it at Woody Allen.
  • Retro Upgrade: After waking up in the future, Miles orders some health food for breakfast (he used to own a health food store). It's revealed that in the future they've discovered that "unhealthy" foods are actually extremely good for you.
  • Road Apples: Miles wonders if the robot dog leaves batteries behind to clean up.
  • Robot Maid: Disguising as one of these is how Miles makes his escape initially.
  • Running Gag: An ambiguous Ray Gun weapon that uses a Plunger Detonator for firing never works properly.
  • Society Marches On: In-universe example: one fellow wears a sweater dress with a large Swastika emblazoned on it. It's Played for Laughs, but It Makes Sense in Context, since 200 years from now, Nazism will be a distant historical subject, with no living Holocaust victims or even children of victims alive to make it a hot button subject. Moreover, the swastika is depicted turning to the left (the Nazi swastika turns in the opposite direction), further suggesting that the symbol is used to convey a different meaning in this future. In the context of the futuristic fascist society, however, it still takes on a sinister subtext, too.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The music is very jazzy for such a clean and dull future - because Miles is a jazz musician.
  • Strawberry Shorthand: Giant strawberries make surprisingly good bludgeons.
  • Take That: The gay couple's super-effeminate robot is named "Reagan", then-Governor of California.
    • Also when Miles "confirms" the scientists' hypothesis that recordings of Howard Cosell were used as a torture device.
  • Video Phone: Present, notably when Luna notifies the authorities that she has been kidnapped by Miles. Bathroom mirrors have also been replaced with video screens; changing the channel on a vid-mirror results in seeing other people go through their bathroom routines.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Science has discovered that everything tasty is actually good for you, making everyone's health a lot better than when we were forcing ourselves to eat all that crappy health food.
  • What Could Have Been: The film was orginally a three-hour epic with the first half set in the present. Allen eventually decided only the second half was worthwhile.
  • What We Now Know to Be True: Trope Namer.
    Dr. Melik: This morning for breakfast he [Miles] requested something called "wheat germ, organic honey and tiger's milk."
    Dr. Aragon: Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.
    Dr. Melik: You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or... hot fudge?
    Dr. Aragon: Those were thought to be unhealthy... precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.
    Dr. Melik: Incredible.


BananasCreator/United ArtistsLove and Death
SistersFilms of the 1970sSoylent Green
WestworldNebula AwardFantastic Planet

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