Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Mrs. Popeye-fire

Now, this'll probably get me banned from many influential, politically correct circles, but what can I say?  Goonland is a classic.  Frankly, it's been kind of a dry spell with these Popeye shorts lately!
Now, as the Wikipedia freely (until the next pledge drive and/or political kerfuffle) and ultimately reports, Goonland is the first appearance of Poopdeck Pappy.  Well, the Simpsons knows this too, but sometimes you just gotta fill your cartoon universe with new characters.  The same ol' Popeye and spinach, well... gets kinda boring.  Plus, your voice actors might perish prematurely, so you'll have to fill the void they've left!  When was the last time we saw Bluto, incidentally?
And so, the "fresh" character of Popeye's dad provides a unique plot opportunity: Popeye has discovered where his pappy is, and sails off to save him.  Pappy is being held captive on Goon Island by the much-maligned Goons.  Even to this day.  Just cuz they're different.  Just cuz they're stronger than most men, have a more powerful sense of smell, and probably don't think as much as they should.
Popeye spies the Goon Island's active volcano.  "Pappy must be there; I can see his pipe!" concludes Popeye.  Lol.  Is that the best moment of the cartoon?  For some, perhaps, but there's others as well.  And so, Popeye eventually lands his dinghy ashore, and ventures forth to find his pappy.
Soon finding himself outnumbered, it's time for a disguise.  Popeye adds some fake Goon hair to his own body, and transforms his physique and face... only in a cartoon... to become the island's smallest Goon.  He shakes up the Goon's world as he strolls by.  A free thinking Goon!  So small and dynamic!  What a sight to behold... at least, for a few seconds, and then it's back to the regular loop of animation cels.
I'm reminded of Mrs. Doubtfire, particularly for the big finale where Robin keeps changing into and back out of his costume at the restaurant.  Popeye does that here with his Goon outfit in order to speak to his pappy, locked up in Goon jail for 40 years.  A lot of seniority!  However, Poopdeck Pappy's not exactly thrilled to see Popeye.  "I don't like relatives!" he barks.  Poopdeck Pappy breaks Popeye's fragile heart, and he forgets to put his Goon costume back on.  And then... Popeye gets caught by the Goons.  He fights them off for a little, but after the Goon Tornado breaks out, Popeye is under their control.
Pappy hears Popeye's cry for help and has a change of heart.  Finally, a reason to break out of jail!  Popeye's spinach can rolls over to Pappy... and it seems to have developed a tongue!  Anyway, Pappy eats his first spinach in 40 years and is instantly bourne anew, and easily breaks out of jail as though it were constructed of tissue paper.
I hate to spoil the finale, but the breaking of the fourth wall helps Popeye and Poopdeck Pappy defeat the Goons.  A more apt metaphor of American Imperialism you will not find.  Still, I admire the showmanship on display here.  A highlight of Volume 2, Disc 1 that I'll always be tempted to watch as I browse all the "episodes."  Accept no substitutes, especially the colorized version that looks just awful, as do all the colorized versions of Fleischer cartoons.  They'd be perfect bandwidth for the web, of course, but why take a step back?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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