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Based on the long-running comic strip created by E.C. Segar (and less on the animated cartoons created by Max Fleischer, which were decidedly different in tone and approach), Popeye follows the sailor man with the mighty arms (played by Robin Williams in his first major film role) as he arrives in the seaside community of Sweethaven in search of his long-lost father. Popeye meets and quickly falls for the slender Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall, in the role she was born to play), but Olive's hand has already been promised to the hulking Bluto (Paul Smith), of whom Olive can say little except, well, he's large. Eventually, Popeye and Olive are brought together by Swee' Pea (Wesley Ivan Hurt), an adorable foundling, and Popeye finally meets his dad, Poopdeck Pappy (Ray Walston). Director Robert Altman in no way tempered his trademark style for this big-budget family opus, crowding the screen with a variety of characters and allowing his cast to overlap as much dialogue as they want.
Movie Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes
- Reviews Counted: 28
- Fresh: 16
- Rotten: 12
- Average Rating: 5.8/10
Top Critics' Reviews
Fresh: A thoroughly charming, immensely appealing mess of a movie, often high-spirited and witty, occasionally pretentious and flat, sometimes robustly funny and frequently unintelligible.
Rotten: It is more than faint praise to say that Popeye is far, far better than it might have been, considering the treacherous challenge it presented. But avoiding disaster is not necessarily the same as success.
Fresh: He takes one of the most artificial and limiting of art forms -- the comic strip -- and raises it to the level of high comedy and high spirits.
Rotten: The plotting of this 1980 feature -- outsider in a hostile environment -- is personal to Altman, though few of the feelings survive the clutter.
The title pretty much sums it up. This isn't modern movie magic, but instead just a good story complimented by good acting. Cheesy songs with sratchy 80's filming adds a certain effect to the movie that can't be captured today. Again, this movie is simply classic.
Underrated in its time...
It amazes me to this day that Robert Altman directed this live action version of Popeye. I saw this film originally, in a theater as a kid. I still love it to this day. It is endless clever, has amazing art direction and the performances and songs are all just wonderful. I love that Altman used the original B&W cartoons as his inspiration, as opposed to the later cartoon incarnations that were just never as good. Robin Williams nails the title character, even capturing the hilarious mutter Popeye did under his breath. This is a fun film, that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults. I can easily chime in with others that this is indeed a classic!
This movie is a delight! Not only is there a great Popeye-type plot, but there are undercurrents of real-life situations threaded throughout. Watch what's going on in the background of this flic - very entertaining! Look for the bushy-haired guy popping in and out of the scenes.