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|Index||174 reviews in total|
I see that lots of people hate this movie. I guess I can see why. It's so
idiosyncratic, so loose, so out there, so...Altman. But this is truly one of
the sweetest, gentlest, and most tender movies I have ever seen. This movie
can be enjoyed if for no other reason than for its total lack of irony. Like
Popeye, it is what it is. And I believe it to be a masterpiece.
This was Robin Williams first serious movie role (2 full years before Garp) and he is a brilliant Popeye. He brings so much humanity and pathos to this character that it is easy to see the great movies in his future. Shelly Duval was born to play Olive Oyl and she does not squander the role of a lifetime. And in a smaller role, a standout performance is turned in Bill Irwin as Ham, Olive's bumbling, stumbling, clown of an ex-boyfriend.
The real star of the show, however, is the atmosphere that Altman conjures up, bringing the 2d comic strip vividly to life and setting you down in this magical little island town of Sweet Haven. Harry Nilssons score is pitch perfect and his songs help to sketch out the characters motives and emotions ("He Needs Me", sung by Duvall, is currently being revived thanks to it's being prominently featured in PT Anderson's "Punch Drunk Love").
One more thing about this movie- I can watch it with my three year old son and we sing the songs and both enjoy it immensely. There are so few movies that can do that. Like I said, a masterpiece!
What's with all the bashing? I never get tired of watching this warm, visceral musical that pulls me in with its myriad textures, striking colors, and unpredictable pacing and dialogue which never seems contrived or scripted (and of course was often expertly improvised). It is the unfettered antithesis to all the shiny, over-produced media of our age. No pretty faces. No product placements. No feel of a commercialized film crafted to be anything other than a comedy musical adaptation of one of my favorite comic strips. It adapts the world of E.C. Daily's style, before King Features "cleaned it up" for animation. Disjointed, rambling...borderline insane, just like the comic! And the music is bonus all the way through. Quirky, playful, simple numbers that perfectly reflect the feel of the old comic. But then again, I liked Hudson Hawk and the Forbidden Zone, so you probably don't want to listen to me. I'm not holding my breath for a commentary-loaded SE DVD.
I remember when Altman released Popeye and it was slammed by most critics
and ignored by the public. It deserves much better than that
Fantastic set design, great acting, high production values, strangely off kilter tunes, and just general all around weirdness make Popeye one of my favorites. Brilliantly twisted and twistedly brilliant.
Disagree? Oh well, whatever....."I yam what I yam and I likes what I likes!"
This project was reviled by critics and disowned by Altman and
Williams. It corresponded to DuVal's breakdown, and was all but the end
of the heavy drinker Nilsson's adventures in film.
But I think its great. You have to remember that it predates every comic/cartoon to film project except 'Superman,' which really was a version of the TeeVee show. And you have to appreciate that 'Popeye' the cartoon is one of the very few that featured humans and therefore was more abstract than most.
Watch it now, and see that it was well ahead of its time and now stacks up as extremely introspective: along the lines of 'Alphaville.'
It had Robin Williams and Ray Walston, both famous TeeVee aliens, or so they were known at the time. It was penned by the notoriously ironic, cartoonist Feiffer, someone who specialized in personal social angst. The songs - a major element here - were by the self-destructive genius Nilsson, and directed by Altman when he was interested in social commentary.
All, plus Duvall, were at the height of their powers. Even the quirky Van Dyke Parks appears.
What makes this project so interesting and appealing is that everyone is completely simpatico with Feiffer's Jarryesque vision, which is disconnected from reality and had no cinematic model.
How so many talents could be so adventuresome and coordinated at the same time is a real puzzle.
The bit about how 'large' Bluto is - and how Shelly mentions it - makes me smile every time I recall it. The social text is a bit heavy, but so what?
This is what made Tim Burton possible.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
There are two movies I have seen in which every line is good and that I can watch dozens of times without becoming the slightest bit bored. Those are The Big Lebowski and Popeye. I just saw Popeye recently for the first time in about twelve years and I can still recite it line for line from when I was a kid. I must have watched it fifty times (It was my babysitter). After I recently watched it, it was on again later that night and I watched it all the way through again. It's a fantastic movie and I'm blown away that the user rating is so low.
Robert Altman's "Popeye" is a film to be lauded for its production design
and performances. Altman took obvious care in bringing the town of
Sweethaven and its residents to life . . . notice the bustling activity, the
individual characterizations, and even the big, cartoony special effects
(e.g. - Bluto blowing smoke from his ears) that both pay homage to the
original "Popeye" and separate it as a new direction for the story.
This well-known story is brought to life by the actors in it, most notably Robin Williams as Popeye and Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl. Robin Williams, complete with immense forearms and squinting eyes, gruffly plows through his adventures with the same tough sensitivity we've come to love from the character over the years. And Shelley Duvall . . . is simply astounding. She BECOMES Olive Oyl. Her gestures, her speech patterns, her gliding walk . . . it has to be seen! Duvall literally transforms herself into a living cartoon, one we care about more and more as the picture runs its course.
"Popeye" is a great conversion, from the comic strip to cartoon to film. With added depth and atmosphere, it remains an underrated classic appropriate for those willing to be transported by art to a fantasy land far , far away.
This is one of my all time favorites. It is both over the top and subtle. There is so much going on...that you can watch it many times and see something new each time. The acting, the sets, the costumes and most of all Harry Nielsen's music, give so many layers to this underrated movie. Shelley Duval's song, He's Large, is such a gem. She can say nothing positive about her beau...much as she tries and wants to impress her friends...except that...he is large!
I feel so content to see that viewers' opinions about "Popeye" are changing. I liked this motion picture since its release and just as someone else mentions here, I sit and watch it again whenever it's playing on television. I was a fan of Popeye's cartoons when a kid, and as a grown up I have become an indeclinable admirer of the films of Robert Altman, who I consider one of the greatest directors of American cinema. As someone wrote in a review of "Dr T. & the Women", Altman is a genre by himself. One may go to see an Altman comedy, but it is better to be warned that one must emphasize the director's name instead of the genre. This is indeed a film version of a comic-strip character, but I believe "Popeye" is mainly Altman's (and writer-cartoonist Jules Feiffer's) vision of Utopia in a town by the sea called Sweethaven, where "Flags are waving wet people from the sea, safe from democracy, sweeter than a melon tree" (lyrics to "Sweethaven", an anthem by Harry Nilsson). It is a love postcard from the filmmaker to his fellow Americans, who so far have preferred to follow the critics' failed opinions about his work, or his peers' disdain when the time comes to give out awards. And then Sweethaven is also more than that: it is Altman's surrealistic vision of humanity dealing with its basic emotions and needs. For the recreation of a world where "God must love us" (Op. cit.), Wolf Kroeger created marvelous sets in Malta, photographed by Giuseppe Rotunno (the magician of light who captured so many of Fellini's clowns and buffoons), peopled with a cast giving its best and to the rhythm of simple, sweet and affectionate songs by Nilsson, that seem more than appropriate for this universe --I do not agree with negative opinions about the songs: they are in complete atonement with the spirit of the film and cartoons. (Do you remember Olive singing "I Want a Clean, Shaven Man"?) What I find disturbing about the film is its sudden change of mood, from observation of people's strength and foibles, into an action movie. It makes me wonder if "Popeye" was severely cut by its distributors. In the soundtrack album, there are songs never heard in the movie. It would be great to see a restored version of "Popeye". But there are many wonderful things about it as it is, that I can pass the deficiencies. For example, one of my favorite scenes is Popeye's first dinner with the Oyls: it is pure Altman, with overlapping dialogues and his brand of humor all over the place. Then you have the whole engagement sequence, with Olive escaping from home as she sings "He's Large", meeting Popeye and finding Swee'pea, while Bluto destroys her house. All the humanity contained in the "cartoonish" frame makes me love this film. I just can't help it.
Robert Altman was just the right director to bring "Popeye" to live
action. His use of naturalistic, overlapping and mumbled speech
patterns, used to such good effect in "M*A*S*H," is the perfect fit for
the residents of the shanty town of Sweethaven. Along with his
production crew, he expertly reconstructs the environs and
reanimates the zany spirit of the early black and white Popeye
cartoons, the ones before Popeye was cleaned up and turned into
a tool of U.S. war propaganda.
Robin Williams carries off the title role with expert skill in a
performance that he, especially he, very easily could have gone
over the top with. Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl and the kid who
played Swee'Pea are likewise letter perfect for their roles.
One of the things I always liked about this movie is the music. Harry Nilsson, a greatly underappreciated talent, came up with a delightful batch of songs that are that are as rich in character as the atmosphere of Sweethaven is full of sodium. Altman's "Popeye," along with Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy," is one of the rare film versions of a cartoon that succeeds. It does so by staying true to the look and spirit of the original. It wasn't created by committee to be a summer blockbuster, hence it is allowed to have a personality and flavor -- a flavor that blooms with repeat viewings.
I never saw this movie until last week. "Better late than never," I
guess, because I liked it. I thought it was good and....in a very
different way. I had known of this film for a long time but did not
realize it was a musical. That didn't excite me, but I wound up
enjoying most of the music because it was only done in short segments
and the songs were decent. None were excellent, but none were awful,
Popeye was fun to hear. Robin Williams had Popeye's mumbling down to a tee. I suggest you watch this with the English subtitles on so you can get all of what Popeye says, or you'll miss a lot of funny lines because of his mumbling. The same can almost be said of Shelly Duvall's impersonation of "Olive Oyl," although you can understand her better. She, too, was fun to watch. I read somewhere that she was very depressed over her performance in this film, but she shouldn't have been. She was perfect for the role.
I didn't think the supporting characters were much, such as Bluto or Wimpy, but Popeye's dad, "Poopdeck Pappy," (Ray Walston) who appears late in the film is a real hoot, and little baby "Swee Pea" is cute. "Pappy" adds a lot of spark and energy to the film, just when it was really needed. My only concern was that it was a really clean movie up to then and Walston changes that, although not with anything really harsh but a number of "let's haul ass" statements and the like.
However, overall, it's a nice, pleasing type of film. It's no award-winner, but it's a lot better than what you might have read from national critics. If you like Popeye's cartoons and comics, you should like this film, too. I would gladly watch this again.
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