Tucson Weekly

DIRECTED BY: Barry Levinson

REVIEWED: 10-24-96

Director Barry Levinson overshoots the mark in Sleepers, a long, overly dramatic movie emphatically about the loss of innocence. Though the first part of the film, about a group of mischievous friends growing up in Hell's Kitchen, has some of the neighborhood charm of Levinson's Diner, the story unravels in the second half into an annoying series of flashbacks that are basically all the same. The plot concerns a group of boys who pull a prank that gets out of hand; as a result they're sent away to a Draconian boy's prison where the guards torture and abuse them. Fifteen years later the boys (haunted by black and white flashbacks), take their revenge on the guards. (One astute viewer leaving the theater commented on the similarities to First Wives' Club.) Though the plot gains some power through the fact that it's based on a true story, the tension never feels genuine, and the boys never seem as real as adults as they did as happy children. Dustin Hoffman gives a nice performance in his plum little role, and Robert Deniro manages a kind of manly rectitude as the neighborhood priest; unfortunately, the adult versions of the boys aren't played nearly as well.

--Stacey Richter

Other Films by Barry Levinson
Liberty Heights
Wag the Dog

Film Vault Suggested Links
Another Day in Paradise
Night Falls on Manhattan

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