After health-store owner Miles Monroe (Woody Allen) dies during a routine surgery, his family has him cryogenically frozen. He awakens 200 years later, revived by a group of underground radicals who oppose the oppressive regime in power. Once the police arrive to arrest the group, Miles flees, disguised as a robot. He meets Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton), and they gradually fall in love. When Miles is later captured by the authorities, Luna seeks out the rebels to help rescue him.
Sleeper is a 1973 futuristic comic science fiction film, written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman, and directed by Allen. The plot involves the adventures of the owner (played by Woody Allen) of a health food store who is cryogenically frozen in 1973 and defrosted 200 years later in an ineptly-led police state. The film contains many elements which parody notable works of science fiction.
Miles Monroe, a clarinet-playing health food store proprietor, is revived out of cryostasis 200 years into a future world in order to help rebels fight an oppressive government regime.
Miles Monroe (Woody Allen), a jazz musician and owner of the "Happy Carrot" health-food store in 1973, is subjected to cryopreservation without his consent, and not revived for 200 years. The scientists who revive him are members of a rebellion: 22nd-century America seems to be a police state, ruled by a dictator about to implement a secret plan known as the "Aries Project". The rebels hope to use Miles as a spy to infiltrate the Aries Project, because he is the only member of this society without a known biometric identity.
The authorities discover the scientists project, and arrest them. Miles escapes by disguising himself as a robot, and goes to work as a butler in the house of socialite Luna Schlosser (Diane Keaton). When Luna decides to have his head replaced with something more "aesthetically pleasing," Miles reveals his true identity to her, whereupon Luna threatens to give Miles to the authorities. In response, he kidnaps her and goes on the run, searching for the Aries Project.
Miles and Luna fall in love, but Miles is captured and brainwashed into becoming a complacent member of the society, while Luna joins the rebellion. The rebels kidnap Miles and perform reverse-brainwashing, whereupon he remembers his past and joins their efforts. Miles becomes jealous when he catches Luna kissing the rebel leader, Erno Windt (John Beck), and she tells him that she believes in free love.
Miles and Luna infiltrate the Aries Project, wherein they quickly learn that the national leader had been killed by a rebel bomb ten months previously. All that survives is his nose. Other members of the Aries Project, mistaking Miles and Luna for doctors, expect them to clone the leader from this single remaining part. Miles steals the nose and "assassinates" it by dropping it in the path of a road roller.
After escaping, Miles and Luna debate their future together. He tells her that Erno will inevitably become as corrupt as the Leader. Miles and Luna confess their love for one another, but she claims that science has proven men and women cannot have meaningful relationships due to chemical incompatibilities. Miles dismisses this, saying that he does not believe in science, and Luna points out that he does not believe in God or political systems either. Luna asks Miles if there is anything he does believe in, and he responds with the line, "Sex and death — two things that come once in a lifetime — but at least after death youre not nauseous." The film ends as the two embrace.Woody Allen as Miles Monroe, the former owner of a health food store from the 1970s
Diane Keaton as Luna Schlosser, an artist from the 22nd century
Don Keefer as Doctor Tryon, one of the two scientists who oversee Miless rehabilitation from cryosleep
Mary Gregory as Doctor Melik, one of the two scientists who oversee Miless rehabilitation from cryosleep
John Beck as Erno Windt, the leader of the rebellion
Bartlett Robinson appears as Doctor Orva, the supervising scientist at Miless revival. Spencer Milligan and Stanley Ross appear as gay couple Jeb Hrmthmg and Sears Swiggles, respectively. Marya Small appears as Doctor Nero, the physician who oversees Miless reprogramming into 22nd-century life. Peter Hobbs appears as Doctor Dean, the leading physician come to witness Our Leaders cloning. Douglas Rain voices Bio Central Computer 2100, Series G, the computer aiding in Our Leaders cloning. Whitney Rydbeck voices Janus, Tryon and Meliks robot butler. John Cannon voices Rags, Miless robot dog. Jackie Mason voices Cohen, one of the two robot tailors of Ginsberg & Cohen. Lou Picetti appears as the Miss America M.C. Chris Forbes appears as Rainer Krebs, a brief romantic interest of Miless. Read Morgan appears as the representative at Domesticon. Brian Avery appears as Herald Cohen, one of Lunas party guests and lovers, and Susan Miller, Regis Cordic, and George Furth appear as other party guests. John McLiam and Jerry Hardin portray scientists at Miless revival. Jeff Maxwell and Seamon Glass portray security guards. Albert Popwell portrays a reprogramming technician. Jessica Rains appears as the woman in the Gyro-Mirror. The image of Timothy Leary is used for Our Leader.
The film was shot in and around Denver, Colorado. The outdoor shots of the hospital were filmed at the Table Mesa Laboratory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. There is also a cameo appearance of the main building of the Denver Botanic Gardens and of the signature concrete lamp posts. The Sculptured House, designed by architect Charles Deaton, is a private home known locally since the film was shot as the "Sleeper House" located on Genesee Mountain near Genesee Park, west of Denver. The Mile Hi Church of Religious Science in Lakewood, Colorado was turned into a futuristic McDonalds, featuring a sign counting the number sold: 795 followed by 51 zeroes.
Vincent Canby, in The New York Times, called the film "terrific", saying it "confidently advances the Allen art into slapstick territory that I associate with the best of Laurel and Hardy. Its the kind of film comedy that no one in Hollywood has done with style in many years, certainly not since Jerry Lewis began to take himself seriously. Sleeper is a comic epic that recalls the breathless pace and dizzy logic of the old two-reelers." Roger Ebert gave the film 3½ out of four stars, saying Allen "gives us moments in Sleeper that are as good as anything since the silent films of Buster Keaton."
In 1974, the film was awarded the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Discon II, the 32nd World Science Fiction Convention, in Washington, D.C.
In 2000, readers of Total Film magazine voted Sleeper the 30th greatest comedy film of all time. That same year, the American Film Institute listed Sleeper as 80th among its 100 Years… 100 Laughs.
In October 2013, the film was voted by the Guardian readers as the tenth best film directed by Woody Allen.
Douglas Rain (who provided the voice of HAL 9000 in 2001: A Space Odyssey) voiced the evil computer in Sleeper.
In an interview published in 2007, Allen stated that Sleeper is mainly a comedic tribute to the comedians whom he deeply admires: Groucho Marx and Bob Hope.