Monday, June 27, 2011

Movie of the Week

This week,

POPEYE (1980)

Starring- Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall, Ray Walston, Paul Dooley

This movie was one of my trifecta of favorites as a kid. When hanging out at home on the weekends, you could safely bet that either Ghostbusters, The Great Muppet Caper or this movie was in the VCR. While some find it odd and creepy, Popeye is one of the great films of my childhood. Directed by Robert Altman, the story takes the Popeye cartoons and comics and turns them into a stylish, fun and surprisingly accurate onscreen depiction. It is hard to think of anyone else as Olive Oyl and Popeye after seeing Shelley Duvall and Robin Williams.

Washed ashore in his dinghy in the town of Sweethaven, Popeye the Sailor is on a quest to find his father- Pappyeye. He stays in the boarding house of the Oyl family, and searches the local town for his long lost dad. While there he runs afoul of Bluto, the large, brutal right hand man of the Commodore, a mysterious man who is the overseer of the seaside community. Olive Oyl is at first betrothed to Bluto, but begins to have affection for Popeye- especially when the two team up to raise an orphan baby by the name of Swee'Pea. The story culminates with a squinty eyed reunion and the final showdown between Bluto and Popeye on deadly Scab Island.

Popeye is by no means a perfect film, but it is fun and funny, with many great nods to the cartoons. Wimpy, Olive's brother Castor (get it?), Rough House and many other supporting characters from the cartoons make this a true Altman ensemble cast, rife with overlapping dialogue. The songs by Harry Nilsson are also a high point, and give yet another quirky layer to the silliness of the story. I Yam What I Yam, Everything is Food and He Needs Me are among the best tunes. See this movie if you ever watched the cartoons or if you want to see a young Robin Williams channel a corn cob pipe smoking, large armed sailor. Either way, you'll be hungry for spinach by the time the it's over.

Things to Watch For-

Dennis Franz as one of the toughs
Me Son
Oxblood Oxheart
The Tax Collector

"I ain't no doctors, but I knows when I'm losing me patience."

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