Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Guilty Pleasure 7: Popeye

I remember the Christmas my family got it's first VCR, the first movie we recorded off of TV a few days after Christmas was "Popeye." I haven't done a guilty pleasure movie article for awhile, but since "Popeye" came around on my Netflix que it seemed like a a good one to highlight.

Released in 1980, this film brings the world of Popeye to live action. The casting is brilliant...Robin Williams as Popeye, Shelley Duvall as Olive Oyl, Ray Waltson as Poopdeck Pappy...all inspired choices. The supporting cast is also great, including many very physical actors bringing some of the lesser known characters from the Popeye comic universe to life. The one odd personnel choice is not in the acting category, but rather the choice of director...Robert Altman.

Altman is considered by many to be one of the greatest American directors of all time. I'll give him that for movies like "M*A*S*H" and "Nashville," but he's also had some disasters ("Pret-a-Porter," yikes my eyes still burn). As good as Altman can be, he was an odd choice for a film aimed at a family audience. Altman is known for his films in which characters talk over each other, "Popeye" is no exception. To say this makes the film a bit hard to follow, especially for young audience, would be an understatement.

Still, "Popeye" succeeds in creating a world. The town of Sweethaven seems to exist in it's own universe. With the antics of it's residents, it is literally a slapstick cartoon brought to life.

Some call this film a mess, others say it's brilliant...I think it fits somewhere in between, but I enjoy it.

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