One thing I like about Netflix, is that since I can have a huge queue of movies, I get to add all these ones I’d like to see someday. Well, today Popeye was next in line. I haven’t seen this movie in more than 20 years, and watching it again was interesting.
I remember when I was a little kid, when we first got a VCR. I must have been around 8 or 9 or so. Popeye was the first movie we ever recorded (it was on ABC, I think), and we must have watched this movie dozens of times. Man those were the days. I remember our VCR didn’t do time-based indexing. Instead, it had this arbitrary counter that we could never figure out how to translate into actual time segments. Good times.
Anyway, I have fond memories of this thing since I’ve seen it so much. I was unsure of what to expect seeing it again, for the first time. I don’t think I could accurately describe the experience. It was just weird. Artistic, but weird.
The movie opens up with a song, which I *completely* forgot that there were any songs in this thing at all. They were weird. In fact, the whole movie is just odd. It wasn’t until about halfway through that I realized how hard a project this would have been to tackle, and all things considered, you have to give it some credit for at least being original.
As far as the story goes, this was the first time I actually could follow the thing. That was weird as well. The whole thing moved a little slow for me, but I imagine that it’s supposed to be a kid’s movie more than anything else (although that’s never really stopped me before). The acting was really good though. Robin Williams did a great job as Popeye. You can never recognize its him the entire time. Everything about the movie really pulls you in. It’s just a weird, hard movie to sit through. I had to fast forward through the DVD three or four times because it was moving too slow for me, but strangely enough I managed to sit through it and experience the whole thing.
I’m trying to think of something more to say about it that would lend itself towards actual content, but I can’t really think of anything. It’s hard to describe something that you understood completely differently in another life, and then you look at it again years later and try to make sense of it all. I honestly can’t even think of how to summarize the story. I do remember it being fascinating to me as a kid for all the funny, whacky weird stuff in it, and I can still see how it would spark the imaginations of some kids today. Still, it’s a hard sell when it’s an artistic film all the way through, especially more so to kids. Everything about it was really well done, and it’s very seamless and put together nicely … but it’s more of a circus event than anything else. You experience it, and move on.
As you can tell, I have a hard time revisiting some things from my past (movies have always been a big part of my life), and it’s even harder when you’re not sure what to expect. For the most part, everything I revisit again has always been a great, positive experience for me — since the first time around I got the general idea to know it was good and entertaining and fun, and the second time around I discover the story, character drama and depth. Or, it’ll just be something like Scooby-Doo and I enjoy the simplicity compared to all the strange crap that’s on now.
I’d sum this one up as an odd, interesting artistic, original exploitation. It did a good job of tackling a tough subject (cartoon strip characters), but it manged to do so with some real depth and character. For me the best part about it was just reliving those childhood memories and getting to see it again. There’s a lot of slapstick and silly antics, which is what I remembered the most. I don’t think I could ever sit through watching it again, but I feel strangely compelled to buy it anyway just in case I do. Very weird.