Popeye

This frenetic cartoon-of-a-movie is about Oyl. Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall) that is. Her spindly limbs and her what's-that-about pout guide her through the rickety fishing village of Sweethaven, where the jumbled streets are awash with wackidasicalness. When Popeye (Robin Williams) washes ashore looking for his long-lost dad, his squinty eyes espy the Oyl of his dreams, but she's about to be betrothed to the behemoth Bluto. Robert Altman was the unexpected captain for this cantankerous adaptation, based not on the popular cartoons, but on the original 1930s E. C. Segar strip. With a script by Jules Feiffer (himself a cartoonist), a cast of overly antic actors, and a whimsical visual aesthetic, Popeye is in a constant totter back toward its inanimate instigator, the drawn strip. Popeye's prosthetic biceps, Wimpy's giant batch of burgers, Olive's colossal clodhoppers-it's flesh-and-blood fading to flat. As the salty sailor, Robin Williams mumbles asides in gravelly eloquence, battles Bluto with impossible panache, and avoids, when possible, that food group known as leafy greens.

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