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Popeye (1980)



Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 28
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 12

Altman's take on the iconic cartoon is messy and wildly uneven, but its robust humor and manic charm are hard to resist.


Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 5
Fresh: 3 | Rotten: 2

Altman's take on the iconic cartoon is messy and wildly uneven, but its robust humor and manic charm are hard to resist.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.6/5
User Ratings: 55,306

My Rating

Movie Info

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

Jun 24, 2003

Paramount Pictures

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All Critics (28) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (16) | Rotten (12) | DVD (7)

The plotting of this 1980 feature -- outsider in a hostile environment -- is personal to Altman, though few of the feelings survive the clutter.

April 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

April 16, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

You wonder how on earth Altman did it; equally often, you feel you are watching a wacky masterpiece, the like of which you've never seen before.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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.

October 23, 2004 Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Comment (1)
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A thoroughly charming, immensely appealing mess of a movie, often high-spirited and witty, occasionally pretentious and flat, sometimes robustly funny and frequently unintelligible.

August 30, 2004 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An eccentric take on Popeye and friends.

January 2, 2011 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media

A lot of it is klutzier than you may remember it being, and it leads to a wretched climax involving the fakest-looking octopus since Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster.

February 21, 2010 Full Review Source:

I reeeeeaaaaaaalllllllyyyyyy hated this movie...

July 10, 2007 | Comments (3)

A good idea gone down the drain under Altman's spotty direction.

April 16, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Comment (1)
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Most people hate this rambling, Robert Altman-directed comic strip movie, but I loved it as a kid and I still love it.

May 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid
Combustible Celluloid

The film's not much chop, but Williams is right at home as the spinach-swallowing sailor

May 12, 2005

Curious paring of Williams and Altman in a live action adaptation of the famous cartoon. Altman's odd sound techniques are not well suited for the material.

December 27, 2004
Entertainment Insiders

The fantastically cartoonish look isn't enough to compensate for the plodding story and overall disinterest I had in the characters.

June 5, 2004 Full Review Source: Apollo Guide
Apollo Guide

Kooky and odd and brilliant in the most warped way imaginable.

May 16, 2004 Full Review Source:

A wacky treat.

February 5, 2004 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Splendid live-action cartoon from Altman. In need of reassessing.

August 21, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

This one really takes an unfair beating, but at the risk of losing your respect entirely, I'll just say it: It's my favorite Altman film!

August 11, 2003
New Times

Popeye is a sustained eureka.

June 30, 2003 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

Altman's job was to convey the spirit of the old cartoons, not dish up some ultraslick Hollywood sitcom fodder. He gets the job done right.

June 23, 2003 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

If you strip away the film's loyalty to its source material, it's not difficult to see that, in many ways, Popeye is Altman's comic spin on McCabe & Mrs. Miller.

June 19, 2003 Full Review Source: Slant Magazine
Slant Magazine

Audience Reviews for Popeye

The sailor man with the spinach can!

Good movie! This was Robin Williams first serious movie role 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 Duvall 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. "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. 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.

Buff sailor-man Popeye arrives in an awkward seaside town called Sweet Haven. There he meets Wimpy, a hamburger-loving man; Olive Oyl, the soon-to-be love of his life; and Bluto, a huge, mean pirate who's out to make Sweet Haven pay for no good reason. Popeye also discovers his long-lost Pappy in the middle of it all, so with a band of his new friends, Popeye heads off to stop Bluto, and he's got the power of spinach, which Popeye detests, to butt Bluto right in the mush. Watch as Popeye mops the floor with punks in a burger joint, stops a greedy tax man, takes down a champion boxer, and even finds abandoned baby Swee' Pea. He's strong to the finish 'cause he eats his spinach!
November 23, 2012
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

My god was this bad! It was like watching Carousel if Robin Williams was the main character. It had very little to do with the series of short cartoons. While it does imitate features of a cartoon, Popeye doesn't seem to be what it imitates. The characters are here but the charm isn't. Robin Williams tends to sneak in some of his own jokes that I still can barely understand with that corncob pipe in his mouth. I was hoping the songs would at least me cool and catchy. Harry Nilsson has written some of the favorite songs: "One", "Coconut", "Cuddly Toy". These songs are just bad from the lyrics to the singing. Not rememerable at all. The only song I remember other than "Popeye the sailor man..." was Shelly Duvall singing "But he's large". My eyes just boggled. That was one horribly written song and sung horribly too.

The plot has got to be the worst though. It almost feels like an origin story of Popeye, but that's not what's bad about it. What is so bad it that Popeye rides his boat into a slum town where everything is taxed...including being taxed. He is rejected by every hotel on town to stay at so he lives with this family that welcomes his...well, the mother welcomes him at least while everyone else gives him the cold shoulder. Bluto intends to marry Oliveoil but she runs away. Popeye stopped in town to look for his father, but his already given up...after one day...the two character cross paths and find an abandoned baby they call their own. No one seems to question how the two got a baby and Popeye and Oliveoil couldn't be happier with their new baby that Popeye names Sweet Pea. The baby has special talents and so Bluto steals it to look for treasure while Popeye's father is his prisoner? THIS WHOLE THING DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!!!
March 2, 2011
John Hein

Super Reviewer

I saw this movie when I was a kid, and I'd love to see it again sometime soon. I remember it being very funny, so I gave it four stars. Plus, Robin Williams plays Popeye, that's cool.
January 8, 2011

Super Reviewer

    1. Popeye: Another thing I got is a sensk of humiligration. Now, maybe you swabs can pool your intelligensk and sees that I'm axsking you for an apologeky.
    – Submitted by Stephen V (19 months ago)
    1. Poopdeck Pappy: Children! You give them everything they want. Give them candy and a lot of toys and what do you get in return? You get a lot of noise: Nah nah nah nah nah, nah, my poppa's a mean old man!
    – Submitted by Nick S (23 months ago)
    1. Popeye: I'm a very tolerant man except when it comes to holding a grudge.
    – Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
View all quotes (3)

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Latest News on Popeye

November 21, 2006:
Auteur Robert Altman Passes Away at 81
Robert Altman, the esteemed and venerable director of "M*A*S*H," "Nashville,"...
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