why Cranky is in pain
Reviews since 1993:   A-E     F-N      O-Z    Posters       Who We Are and Why We Do What We Do     Contact    Search the Site

Your Donations support the Site

Top Selling DVD     Books

50 Shades of Grey
Exodus Gods and Kings
Grand Budapest Hotel
Imitation Game, The
Into the Woods

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit
Theory of Everything
Ride Along
We're the Millers
The Great Gatsby
The Avengers
Amazing Spider-Man
Girl w/ Dragon Tattoo
Dark Knight Trilogy
World War Z
Happy Feet 2
Iton Man 3 combo
Batman Begins
Dark Knight
Fifth Element
The Hangover
Hunger Games
James Bond 11 disc coll.
Lord of the Rings trilogy
Mission Impossible GP
Sherlock Holmes AGOS
Singing in the Rain
Snow White Huntsman
Star Trek Into Darkness combo
Star Wars Saga
21 Jump Street
Ultimate Matrix coll
X-Men First Class
X-Men Trilogy
X-Men Wolverine

 BLU-Ray for Family DVDs 
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
A Bug's Life
Chronicles of Narnia set
Harry Potter 1-8 collection
Iron Man 2 combo
Kung Fu Panda
Lord of the Rings Trilogy Pinocchio
Pirates of Caribbean trilogy
Pixar short films
Shrek the Whole Story
Sleeping Beauty
The Smurfs
Snow White & 7 Dwarfs
Star Trek motion pictures set
Star Trek TNG Season One
Star Wars Saga (1-6)
Toy Story combo
Toy Story 2 combo
Toy Story 3 combo
Wall-E SE


Search engine by FreeFind
Click to add search to YOUR web site!
click to search site

Alice in Wonderland
Beauty and the Beast
Kung Fu Panda
The Lion King
Mary Poppins 45th LE
Princess Mononoke
Shrek the Whole Story
Simpsons Movie
Spider-Man Trilogy
Spirited Away
Star Trek movies set
Star Trek TOS (TV)
ST:TNG complete tv set
Star Wars Trilogy (1-3)
Star Wars Trilogy (4-6)
Toy Story DVD combo
Toy Story 2 DVD combo
Toy Story 3 DVD combo
Wallace and Gromit
Wall-E SE

Buy Movie collectibles
TV/Movie Collectibles

movie review query engine

NY film critics online

Privacy Policy

Starring Brad Pitt, Jason Patric, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Bacon
Written and Directed by Barry Levinson

As always, Cranky makes no comparisons to a film's source material, in this case the book by Lorenzo Carcaterra.

Sometimes having a A-list cast and director is not enough when the subject matter is so unpleasant that even a revenge motif is can't save it. That being said, the film students out there will have a wonderful time debating the moral themes found in Sleepers.

But not Cranky. Sleepers is the story of four impoverished boys, growing up in the Hells Kitchen, New York City in the 1960s. Hells Kitchen was an area where parents were always fighting, the Church held everything together, and the inhabitants looked after each other.

Lorenzo (Joe Perrino and Jason Patric), Michael (Brad Renfro and Brad Pitt), John (Geoff Wigdor and Ron Eldard) and Tommy (Jonathan Tucker and Billy Crudup) are the pals at the center of the story. Father Bobby (Robert De Niro) was the father figure who watched over them. As kids will do, they played pranks on the immigrant outsiders who worked in the neighborhood.

It was a prank they had pulled before, stealing hot dogs from a local vendor, but in this instance it goes horribly wrong and a man is nearly killed. The quartet are sentenced to a juvenile detention hall where, under the guiding eye of a guard called Nokes (Kevin Bacon), they are raped, sodomized, tortured, starved, and beaten. Again and again.

As tastefully done as it is, it is a horrible, horrifying story. Lorenzo and Michael manage to shake off the past, and grow into a newspaper reporter and an Assistant D.A. respectively. John and Tommy become thugs and hitmen for the local gang, the Westies. When they stumble upon a chance for revenge, they take it. The four boyhood pals come together in a courtroom, on both sides of the law. At the defense table is Danny Snyder (Dustin Hoffman), an alcoholic, drug abusing attorney.

Hoffman's performance is the skylight that broke through the unpleasantness of the bulk of the movie. The laughter that broke from the audience was explosive, and more of relief from the oppressiveness of the tale being told.

At the root, the problem with Sleepers is that, for as much time as they get on screen, we don't get a feeling that the boys *are* truly bonded as pals. Director Barry Levinson, in past films such as Diner and Avalon, knows how to show this on screen. But here he fails. All the good acting in the world -- and have no doubt about it, the performances by Hoffman, Bacon and De Niro are first rate -- can't help if the kidlet actors are mere punching bags and not "living" creations on the big screen. Minnie Driver plays Carol who as a kid character is given so little weight that her reappearance and subsequent emotional torment as an adult just doesn't work.

If you make it to the end, there is some kind of exuberant flashback scene which bears no relationship to anything you will have seen in the previous two hours and thirty minutes of movie. At this point, it will have helped to have read the book.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price for Sleepers, he would have paid . . .

$ 2.00

For the performances by Bacon and Hoffman. Buy the book instead.

Click to buy films by Barry Levinson
Click to buy films starring Dustin Hoffman
Click to buy films starring Kevin Bacon
Click to buy films starring Robert DeNiro
Click to buy films starring Brad Pitt
Click to buy films starring Jason Patric

The Cranky Critic® is a Registered Trademark of, and his website is Copyright © 1995  -  2016   by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.