Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Popeye (1980) Review:

With all the live cartoon adaptations that are coming out now, it's amazing how people forget the films that were done without computer generated images. Director Robert Altman's Popeye is one of those films that should be given credit. For being a film that was released before CGI was a prominent special effect, it does a spectacular job at making all the characters look as accurate as possible. And that's just one of the aspects of this film that makes it stand out from the rest.

Robin Williams & Shelley Duvall both represent their
roles quite accurately
Robin Williams stars as the one-eyed sailor and I got to admit, it was a smart choice casting him. Williams' acting is brilliant. All the mannerisms, speech impediments, and wisecracks are all like what Popeye would probably say and they're funny to hear. Not to mention the costume he wears is great looking too. I'm curious to how they got him to have such large arms. Playing Olive Oyl is actress Shelley Duvall. Her acting is also very accurate because of how physically lanky her body structure is. Her clumsiness adds to the humor as well.

My favorite character in this film was Poopdeck Pappy acted by Ray Walston. Walston has some really comical lines and it's even funnier whenever he's laughing or ranting. I'm not going to list all the actors because the cast goes on and on but to summarize, Altman picked the perfect set of individuals to portray every character in this movie. Supposedly, Altman hired many actors from a circus to participate. This make sense because throughout the film, the viewer will notice many of these actors are quite flexible. This is a good thing to have when it comes to creating a live action cartoon movie.

The area I wasn’t expecting in Robert Altman's version of Popeye was the music. Discovering that the actors also have their own solos was an interesting add-on. At first, it may seem like the singing parts weren't necessary but it turns out that having the cast break out into song gives the story a little bit more liveliness to it. So in retrospect, this film doesn't have a musical score because it is a musical. The songs aren't bad so there's nothing to really dislike about it. My favorite was the "Everything is food" song. Throughout that entire song, there were a lot of funny parts.

Ray Walston is very funny as Poopdeck Pappy
Going back to special effects, there is absolutely no CGI in this film. Everything is formed one way another that uses anything in the physical world. This is what makes this film so good because everything is real and on screen for the actors to touch. When Popeye and Bluto fight, the way they fight is all made to look like no matter what happens, they are still on screen. Also any objects that any characters touch can fall apart or break off which adds to the comedy of the film.

Comedy is the other great element to this film. Even though much of it is over the top gags, a lot of it is still funny. What was most enjoyable was how the actors coordinated the gags. For example, Popeye finds his pipe on the ground and above him a group of men carrying a piano on a ledge. The group loses grip of the piano and it sways right over Popeye's head just as he bends down to grab his pipe. If that's not well planned timing, then I don't know what is!

For 1980, the cartoon live action version of Popeye is done with utmost preciseness in its characters and comical elements. This is also probably the only cartoon adaptation that is a musical too, which makes it that much more culturally deviant.

Points Earned --> 10:10

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