Woody Allen and Diane Keaton in 'Sleeper'

Last weekend we were inundated with new comedies at the multiplex -- Lottery Ticket, The Switch, and Vampires Suck -- ranging in quality from mediocre (the first two) to genuinely rank (the latter). I suspect that most of our readers gravitated towards Piranha 3D, which was so over the top that it provoked plenty of laughter. In any event, it inspired me to compile a list of the best sci-fi comedies ever made.

Smooshing together the two genres requires: (1) that the filmmakers treasure and appreciate science fiction, (2) that the filmmakers understand how well sci-fi lends itself to humor, and (3) that the filmmakers have a sense of humor about themselves. The filmmakers also need a keen sense of balance, or else you end up with a lumbering mess like Ivan Reitman's Evolution. Here are ten that got it right.

1. Sleeper
Woody Allen and co-writer Marshall Brickman transfer mild-mannered Miles Monroe to the future, and set the neurotic Jew loose to explore. Allen had been played the same basic character for years, first in his stand-up routine and then in his "early, funny" films (Take the Money and Run, Bananas, Every Thing You Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid to Ask), so America 200 years in the future provided a fresh setting and allowed Allen to rain down commentary about the inanities of urban living in 1973. Add to that great production design by Dale Hennesy, costumes designed by future director Joel Schumacher, and the delights of the ditzy Diane Keaton. Sleeper was also Allen's love letter to the great silent comedians, and the best bits are nearly all visual gags.
categories Sci-Fi