Saturday, June 15, 2013
Next Popeye: Adventures of Popeye
Scene: we see a live-action old-timey book sale! But we can't see any titles... phooey. There's something about oxen by Atherton... I guess we'll never know. The main attraction, of course, is a picture book, prominently displayed, titled "Adventures of POPEYE," featuring our main man on the cover, b'atch! Money changes hands, and the book is handed over to our tiny customer. Awww, isn't he cute... it is a he, isn't it? Well, boys' fashion was a tad different in those days.
Next scene: our young hero passes by a boy who's much older and much bigger. "Aw, ya sissy!" he says... Holy Dubbing, Ben Burtt! Well, we may never know who the live actors were, or the actors dubbing their voices... and perhaps that's for the best. Anyway, the ancient struggle rages on, but with new players. And so, this eleven year old boy manages to beat up our hero, the five year old kid. I'm guessing on the ages, of course, but geez louise! Talk about your unfair fights. The Popeye book lands perfectly amidst the potato baskets so that it can still be seen for what it is.
Cross-fade to the bitter aftermath. Bluto... I mean, the bully, runs away, laughing, and Popeye... I mean, the small kid what bought the Popeye cartoon... is crying. Suddenly, Popeye comes to life, twirls his pipe, and stares daggers at the bully. Time for the long, slow period of consolation.
Now, normally I shudder at the thought of Popeye as a babysitter, but he'll just have to do in a pinch. He consoles our crying lad the only way he knows how: clips of his previous exploits. First up, it's clips from I Eats My Spinach. And as you can tell, they changed the audio!!!! Those bastids! I prefer the Eats My Spinach audio, because the steer sounds like Bluto when it emerges from its holding pen. Bluto is cut out of the Eats My Spinach clips, as Popeye focuses on beating up the large, unruly animals for the time being. He turns the bull into an organic meat shop, then jumps back out of the comic book.
On to the next exploit. "Don't cry now! Just a minute," mumbles Popeye as he takes off his meat shop apron and puts on his trademark hat. Next clip: from the very first Popeye short, Betty Boop Presents Popeye the Sailor. Something like that. Once again, the audio is given a makeover, and the fun parts are cut out for time: the part where the train cars all split up then get back together again, and where Bluto's neck and head turn into the Test Your Strength game. I don't feel up to doing an absolute scene-by-scene comparison, but the main thing to remember is Popeye eats his spinach, which looks more like a pile of dry grass clippings to me, and Bluto and the train get their asses kicked. And why the train? Because it's funny, of course!
Popeye blows the next page open, and it's time for Wild Elephinks. We cut right to the part after the monkeys sound the general jungle alarm, and all the aminals surround Popeye and Olive. The sound is arguably a little better this time; the animals sound more like animals and not so much like a band imitating animal noises... okay, not by much, but still. I prefer the way the lion says "I'm KING!" from the original Wild Elephinks myself. Here, it sounds like someone yelling into a coffee can.
Other changes: Popeye's pipe makes a whistling noise when he blows smoke at the snake, and they cut out the part where the elephant remembers the punch that Popeye delivered to its trunk before it charges. And alas, no rousing rendition of "Hold That Tiger" as Popeye turns everything into fur coats. Oh well.
For his last adventure... we've only got time for one more, I think, it's time for the big watery finale of Axe Me Another. Popeye licks his thumb, turns the page with his ass (so why did he lick his thumb again?... oh, skip it), and in he goes, stepping right onto the log before he starts sinking into the very, very deep waters of the river. And once again, I much prefer the original music of Axe Me Another. To save time, Bluto only gets his head hit by the two logs one time instead of two. Bluto once again carries a log to beat Popeye with, but Popeye once again turns it into a high chair, and Bluto ends up crying in it. No musical flourish when Bluto lands in the chair and the tray snaps into place! For shame. But they do keep the part where Popeye sings the theme song as he and Olive stuff Bluto's face with spinach. Boy! It's a good thing spinach doesn't work on Bluto! At least, I don't know of an instance where it did.
And so, with the show over, Popeye closes his book, jumps back onto the front cover, and repeats the advice for the kid. He says, you'll be strong to the finich, too, young man!
And then... the moment of revenge has arrived. The young tiny kid gets a hold of a big can of spinach that could be right out of the supermarket in Repo Man. The kid's arm muscle turns into the Rock of Gibraltar! Oh, don't they always. Never Vasquez Rock or Ayers Rock. Always with the Gibraltar.
As in all of these Popeye cartoons, revenge is served piping hot. We only get five seconds of revenge? For shame! The tiny kid beats up the bigger kid for five seconds, and delivers a punch that sends the big kid sailing up through an attic window in a nearby house. Never say never, indeed! The small kid then sings the Popeye ending theme song, with Popeye taking over in the second half... I hope. Reminds me of the ending of the 1980 Robert Altman movie, just before the end credits start. I should give this four stars for being an easy review, but really, it's more like three stars. Three it is, then.
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan