08 March 2012

Movies: Popeye

Popeye (1980) http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0081353/

Family Musical Adventure Comedy

Live-action Popeye film.  Popeye rows in to Sweet Haven, meets Olive Oyl and her family, adopts Swee' Pea, fights with Bluto...

I had not seen this film prior to now. I figured it was time to do so.
My first thought -- I can't believe this was directed by Robert Altman. I remember the original "MASH" film, I make a point of watching it once every three or five years or so.  I even liked "A Prairie Home Companion" in a fashion. But this film -- I'm just flummoxed it's from the same director.

The film did nothing to evoke fond memories of the old Fleischer Popeye cartoons. I'd rather I had watched those for two hours or more.

Granted - Popeye does have some good scenes in it. But the film as a whole is weaker than the sum of its parts. At first I thought I was watching a stage musical converted to film. Afterwards I find out that's not the case. Some of the songs are okay, but for the most part I could've done without. Not the composer's fault, they just didn't add much to the film for me. The story seemed kind of weak and disjointed, though I do see how everything ties together. But still. Ugh. It was almost painful to watch. I watched the whole thing just to give it a fair shake, but I was really prepared to cut it short many a time.

Set-wise they did a wonderful job. The boats used in the chase-scene were masterworks as well. But that's not enough to win me over, especially when I'm not particularly liking the coherence of the story. Plus, a lot of times the sound seemed off. I know a lot of films do post-production sound work and ADR and stuff, but the mix just seemed way off and pasted-over.

Stars Robin Williams as Popeye, Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl.  Actually the casting was spot-on for the film. The Swee' Pea was cute. Duvall was perfect for Olive Oyl. Even though it was Williams's first feature film, in context of today casting him as Popeye then was the perfect choice.  The supporting cast did well for the most part too. The backgrounders all seemed like stage musical background performers, exaggerated scenery-chewing and all.

Here I thought I was missing out on something by not having seen the film before, but now that I've seen it, I realize I was wrong.  Heck, it made me re-appreciate recently re-watching "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang".

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