Popeye - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Popeye Reviews

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½ November 14, 2017
Great production value. It is comic book fun.
October 21, 2017
Altman's maddest film, based on the highly popular cartoon series, and made with half the crew on drugs, it's an acquired taste of film. Set in the seaside town of Sweethaven, it had Popeye (Robin Williams), arriving to the town by dingy, looking for his long-lost father, Poopdeck Pappy (Ray Walston), he finds lodgings at Oyls' boarding house, where he falls for their daughter, Olive Oyl, (Shelley Duvall), much to the ire of her bullying boyfriend Captain Bluto (Paul L. Smith). Normally, live-action versions of cartoons don't work, but this does. It captures the tone of the comic strip the the original cartoon shorts were based on. The whole town is a tourist attraction in Malta now, but the film is beautifully shot by Giuseppe Rotunno, with songs provided by Harry Nilsson, it's a film well worth a reappraisal. ;)
½ October 12, 2017
The characters look the part, the sets look it too and it even sounds like a living cartoon, but the lack of a discernible plot makes Popeye feel like a bit of a mess. Is Popeye's search for his father the driving force of this movie? If so, there is little actual time spent on the subject. It doesn't really ever feel like anything is being accomplished here. Scenes play out one after the other with very little indication as to where it can and/or will go next. One could even rearrange many of the scenes and there would be little, if any noticeable difference in progression. Also, for a musical, the music in this film is rather uneven. Occasionally, when it works, it's still rather dopey, which pretty much sums this movie up very well - Dopey.
August 6, 2017
A chaotic mess but true art.
July 31, 2017
This movie is unfairly maligned, and has a reputation that it flopped at the box office. Robin Williams was even critical about it before his passing, but it actually made a decent profit upon release. Jules Feiffer, the writer credited with the screenplay, has stated it's the only movie he has worked on that continues to generate residuals for him.

So why is it so disliked? I believe a good deal has to do with the property. Even though the cartoons were still in wide circulation in 1980, Popeye was already passe - out of style - by the time the movie hit theaters, and remains so today.

Another reason why it might not be so fondly remembered is because of the style. The setting, tone and most of the characters are more EC Segar than Sagendorf. That is, when the comic strip came out, Popeye and company were more rough and tumble. When the strip was taken over by artist Bud Sagendorf upon Segar's death, it became watered down. It borrowed more from the cartoons. More spinach eating, more throw-away gags. And while the comic strip has had a long run in the newspapers, most everyone associates the sailor with his various cartoon appearances.

This movie is far from perfect, but it is far more enjoyable given credit. As mentioned before, Feiffer, a cartoonist himself, wrote the script with the original EC Segar creation in mind. It's in no way 100% faithful to the source material - how Popeye meets Olive Oyl, etc, is completely different from his comic strip introduction, for example. Apparently, much of the story was changed during the shoot by Robert Altman, but the the original 1929 character still shines through.

Also, the costumes are absolutely fantastic. They are incredibly authentic to the comic, without looking stagey. Over the top, of course, but they fit the aesthetics of the movie perfectly.

Robin Williams is the perfect person to play the sailor. He looks like him, he sounds like him, he moves like him. He's also oddly restrained. He could have played him far more broadly. Shelley Duvall, Paul Dooley and Ray Walston were inspired casting choices, as well.

The fault I find is in the way the movie was constructed. It's sometimes a little threadbare, and off the cuff, pieced together scene by scene.

The music is a little off most of the time. All of the songs were written by Harry Nillsson - it was one of the last projects he worked on before his death, and their quality was affected by his health. By that time in his career, he was pretty much washed up, and was brought in through the recommendation of Robin Williams. In my opinion, the songs are lyrically clever and a lot of fun, but most of them fizzle out, especially Popeye's big number "I Yam What I Yam." It's a bang-up tune that doesn't know how to end, so it just trails off.

The ending is pretty weak, but that's due in part, I understand, to there not being a real ending written to the movie. It just kind of ends in a fight between Bluto, Popeye and a rubber octopus. While weak, it's works well enough for it to end in the classic Popeye the Sailorman theme.

Again, not a perfect film. But, frankly, I don't care. It has buckets of charm, and it's pure Popeye.
July 27, 2017
I know I'm in the minority here, but I have loved this movie since childhood. It's weird, no doubt, but also creates a charmingly eccentric world of its own. The rickety shacks and boardwalks of Sweethaven--now a tourist attraction in Malta, I'm told--together with the cast of top-notch character actors at their cartoonish best are worth the price of admission. Check out the clip "Everything is Food," featuring Paul Dooley as Wimpy, and the sublime Bill Irwin.
½ January 31, 2017
Unusual concept which just doesn't work. Basically they filmed it as a silent, color film and added all diologue/sound effects in post production. Weak idea poorly executed, which is a shame as Walston, Williams and Duvall were perfectly cast.
January 19, 2017
Nonetheless, an exploit of the Musical know-how
January 6, 2017
A decent live-action film based on a popular cartoon. I feel like I had higher expectations though. Robin Williams probably was not the best choice for the title character, Popeye. I also didn't think it worked well as a musical. The songs weren't very good. (First and only viewing - 1/4/2011)
January 1, 2017
For better or worse unique, Altman's Popeye is a distinc film. Wonky pacing and some weak songs are almost counterbalanced by a great cast and production values.
September 24, 2016
Brilliant adaptation of early Popeye cartoons and comic strip. The fact that the antagonist is named Bluto and not Brutus should be a tipoff to the era that Altman was working in.
½ August 3, 2016
A complete bore with some of the worst music I've ever heard. I can't believe how miserably dull this movie is.
July 27, 2016
Quirky, creative and great storyline.
½ July 5, 2016
Better than the last Airbender and Jem and the holograms
½ June 14, 2016
Blow me down.

Popeye arrives in a small seaside town that is currently under the watch of Bluto. Popeye is looking for his long lost father and stays at an inn where Olive Oyl resides, Bluto's love interest. Olive isn't as smitten with Bluto as it seems and she becomes wrapped up in Popeye's adventure, especially when they find a baby. Bluto doesn't take too kindly to Olive's new adventure and throws himself into the fray.

"He'd always throw me in the air...but he wouldn't be there when I came down."

Robert Altman, director of Mash: The Movie, The Player, Gosford Park, Short Cuts, The Long Goodbye, Nashville, A Wedding, 3 Women, and Fool for Love, delivers Popeye. The storyline for this picture is classic Popeye and contains the perfect setting, wardrobe, and shenanigans. The acting was very entertaining and the cast includes Robin Williams, Shelley Duvalle, Ray Walston, Bill Irwin, and Donovan Scott.

"What type of name is Olive Oyl? Sounds like a lubricant."

I always adored this movie and randomly DVR'd it off cable to watch it again for the first time in a long time. I adored how the characters and settings were delivered. The feel of the movie had so much magic, and the actors delivered the characters so well, that I still loved every second of this movie. I strongly recommend seeing this at least once.

"I am what I am. I'm Popeye the Sailor Man."

Grade: A-
June 12, 2016
liked it as a kid, but now it is just weird
½ May 4, 2016
Somewhere between director, Altman, doing "M.A.S.H" in 1970 and "Gosford Park" in the late 90s- he did a lot of crappy movies. "Popeye" can be found in that pile. It's definitely cute and nostalgic to see the animated characters in real life and no cast could have done a better job with those roles- so that's something. However, writing it as a musical to be song by a cast of tone-deaf actors is not a good idea... or making it two hours long. If they would have lost the music, mixed the sound / ADR better, and been a bit more creative in the writing- it would have been more bearable. I didn't like the "Haul A$$" yelled continually at the end. Kids would pick up things like that. Otherwise, not as bad as it could have been. Rating: 5.5 / 10
March 6, 2016
Finally got around to watching this Robert Altman musical, and I can see why it was a bomb. It just doesn't work, nothing about it does. I think Altman was the wrong director for this. It is still an interesting curiosity and worthwhile for Altman fans. I also discovered that the Harry Nillson song "He needs me" performed by Shelley Duvall was from this film, I knew it from the "Punch Drunk Love" soundtrack. This one is for Altman or Robin Williams fans only.
½ March 3, 2016
After ten minutes, I had watched enough of this ungodly awful film.
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