TV Cream

Films: P is for...

Popeye

Derided universally for being a misbegotten assault on all six senses, and with a large amount of good reason too, but what it does manage to do is capture the ramshackle, mumbling charm of the only Popeye cartoons worth the name, ie those of the Fleischer Brothers, in all their rubber-hosed, sweat-bead-showing, ad-libbing glory. Perfect for Robert ‘Never have one actor talking when five will do’ Altman and still-got-it Robin Williams, then. Sadly, the awful ‘cartoony’ production design and make-up all but sodded it completely. OK, we haven’t got any better ideas about how to adapt it ourselves, but the domestic-set Fleischer-era cartoons make Popeye’s home agreeably urban Brooklyn-y and downtrodden, not some hideous Maltese orange theme park where ‘flags wave wet people from the sea’ (thank you, Harry Nilsson), so that might have been a start. But then, that might have been a bit too much. Still, it’s certainly worth seeing once, and not purely out of morbid curiosity – more to experience that unsettling ‘applauding the craft while simultaneously wanting to throw up’ feeling only live-action cartoon adaptations seem capable of invoking.

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  1. THX 1139

    April 17, 2016 at 11:37 pm

    This did actually make a bit of profit, only not enough to justify the enterprise. Apparently it wasn’t based on the animated version but the original cartoon strips, which obviously was a brilliant idea when everyone in the world in 1980 was so incredibly familiar with fifty year old comics. There is a queasiness about it, true, but the total lack of laughs is the real problem.

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