Sunday, August 9, 2009
Day 202: Popeye (1980) - Rank 1.5/5
Oh, Robert Altman...what were you thinking? This is just a weird concept to begin with. The final product is even more bizarre and unnecessary. Robin Williams is the strong armed sailor, clad in a costume complete with prosthetic arms. Shelly Duvall is a perfect double for Olive Oyl, which is rather sad considering no makeup was needed. There's the Paul Dooley factor as Wimpy and even the great Paul L. Smith tackles the role of Bluto. Lastly, Ray Walston has a peculiar cameo as Popeye's father, Poopdeck Pappy (okay, I will admit that his name is pretty darn funny). Really, prefect casting when you get right down to it. Furthermore, the costumes look like they were peeled from a comics page. So what's the problem then?
Nothing much happens. Bluto wants to marry Olive, Popeye wants to stop him, a can of spinach later, everyone's problems are solved. The film is also intended as a musical, but the songs come off as labored and paltry. Every musical should have at least one great "show stopper" that people are left humming long after the film is over. The only one I had stuck in my head was Olive Oyl's "He Needs Me"...and that's only due to the fact that we played the hell out of the "Punch Drunk Love" trailer at our theatre prior to its release (the music clearly unleashed all those memories of being stuck in the concession stand with the trailer DVD playing ad nauseum on the TV wall behind me). Every song has the same basic tone and beat and to me, a truly good musical will shift back and forth between slower, melodic (and often romantic) interludes contrasted with blow-out musical numbers with a full chorus line tapping out a rhythm that would make Busby Berkeley giddy. If you're going to turn down the pace of the music, it's only natural that the rest of the film will follow suit.
This Clip Illustrates the Basic Format All the Songs Follow