Friday, August 15, 2014

"Well Blow Me Down!"

The death this week of Robin Williams has Eric Spitznagel reflecting on the comedic actor’s role in the 1980 musical Popeye:

“Smart people aren’t supposed to like Popeye, because it’s universally acknowledged as a hot mess and terrible filmmaking. But fuck that. It’s an amazing movie that just improves with age and, OK, I’m going say it: it’s Robin Williams’s best film, hands down.”

Larry Cruz is on the same page:

“His appearance on screen was a bit off-putting at first. No man, after all, has as prominent a jawline as Popeye. However, Williams embodies the role—and it wasn’t only the rubber forearms. After a few minutes of seeing the actor scrunch his face and chomp at a comically large cornpipe, you believe that Williams is a cartoon character come to life. Plus, that unmistakable gruff Popeye voice, first spoken by Billy Costello in the Fleischer cartoons, that Williams imitates perfectly. It’s probably the most effort an actor has ever put into transforming himself into a comic book character, and he pulled it off amazingly well.”

Earlier this year, Scott Tobias considered director Robert Altman’s influence on the project:

“Altman reverses the emphasis of most mainstream family entertainments, which are about pace and snap, and instead favors a gentle, more inviting evocation of Sweethaven and its oddball inhabitants.”

(Image: Robin Williams as Popeye, Paramount Pictures)

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