- Language: English
- Region: All Regions
- Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
- Number of discs: 1
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
- ASIN: B004YCKK46
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #39,930 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
The most interesting character in the movie by far is Father Bobby (De Niro), a 'cool' priest who is as comfortable beating up an abusive father as preaching. There's Fat Mancho who gives out street wisdom to kids; Danny Snyder (Dustin Hoffman), the lawyer who mutters as if to himself in court. These characters keep the movie interesting.
The boys themselves, however, have little individuality. And like all coming-of-age movies (American Graffiti, Stand By Me, October Sky) there has to be oldies playing, and the number of boys has to be 4. Young Carol is an underdeveloped character whom the director expects the audience to remember later on. The prison guards (Kevin Bacon, Terry Kinney) do what the plot expects them to do, and King Benny provides simple mob flick entertainment. The grown-up boys developed some characters but, ironically, even with the Monte Christo plot, one cannot help but get the sense that the boys, whose lives would have otherwise been very unextraordinary, were saved by the dramatic event.
However, Levinson has created a masterpiece, and a film that everyone should watch. Sleepers might've not been the most eloquent courtroom drama, and the tactics used might be unrefined, but I absolutely loved it. It showed the consequences of prison guards' sadism, which affected the boys for the rest of their lives.
All the actors give mindblowing performances, with no conceivable weak link. This includes the four child actors, who dominate half of the movie, but obviously don't receive as much press as their older counterparts. These four kids were outstanding in roles that must have been truly harrowing to play, especially the young boy who played John. Even Brad Pitt shows that under the right direction he can be more than a candy face.
Add to this a great score from John Williams, and you will come back to this film time and time again. The DVD has great features too so in all a very worthy purchase.
With "Sleepers" you won't just HEAR about past rapes of boys by slimy prison guards. "Sleepers" makes you experience (no male nudity shown, thank you) the Hell's Kitchen of childhood mental and sexual devastation. (I think that Joseph Perrino, the young "Shakes," deserves an Oscar.)
When the movie does a 15 year jump ahead, you are still feeling what they thought they had been able to leave in their past. Major message of the movie - you don't get past your past by trying to avoid it!!!! (That's an exclamation point for each "boy.") The next scene, when John (Ron Eldard) bumps into scumbag rapist former-guard (Kevin Bacon) in a dive diner, shocked me as much as it shocked John. John looking at himself in the bathroom mirror may be the most powerful single event in the movie.
A close second is when narrator "Shakes" gathers up the courage to go visit his father in desperate hopes of telling his own dad what was done to him while in the juvenile prison. His father is just not on the same page, and Shakes closes back up without telling him. Wow. If that scene doesn't move you.......
As an attorney, I particularly liked Dustin Hoffman's defensed attorney come-back (required by awesome character, King Benny). Hoffman's unassuming cross-examination of the only unmurdered rapist guard is one of my favorite courtroom scenes of any movie.
The movie's ending is either a flaw or a masterful choice by director Barry Levinson.Read more ›