Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Towed in a Hole, or Luckily They Build Boats Better Now

Now we're getting back to (story) fundamentals!  Of course, at times like these I guess I can't help but narrow my focus to the last couple of Popeye shorts, seeing as how in general there's been a steady decline in the quality of the animation.  No more 3-D backgrounds!  And where the hell is Bluto?  Oh, right... it's still probably Pinto Colvig, the voice of Goofy.  I was studying future Bluto voicer Jackson Beck, and he apparently did some of the voices for the Fleischer Superman shorts.  See?  It's mostly who you know!  Of course, and I think I've said this already, but I'm sure Woody Allen regrets saying that now famous quote, "90% of it is showing up."  Well, how about I quote Kevin Pollak instead, who once quipped "You gotta kiss the right butt."  Of course, his thing's poker these days; not so much with the movies.
But let's try to get back to our next Popeye short, and it's called My Pop, My Pop, which is a play on words of ... something, I don't know.  Maybe it's just a phrase.  Ooh!  How about "My captain, my captain?"  Anyway, like that annoying palindrome "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama," we've got a man, his old man, and a boat.  Popeye.  ...sorry about that.
Anyway, we see Popeye building a boat.  And since the Fleischers were apparently forbidden from using their turntable 3D background technology during the go-go 1940s, we get a foreground that splits in two as we zoom in on Popeye.  Notice the smudges that move to the left as we go.  Sloppy work, guys.  Sloppy.  You can even see them on YouTube!
And so, Popeye's going about the drudgery of building a boat: the semi-swallowing of nails, the spitting them back out into wood, the subsequent nailing, and the final coat of paint.  Things go slower without spinach... sorry, SPOILER ALERT.  Gee, this scenario's kinda boring all by itself.  Why don't we put something or someone else into the mix?  And so... here comes Poopdeck Pappy.  Jack Mercer does double duty as both father and son.  And right away, Pappy starts critiquing son Popeye's boat building.  Of course, what Popeye says next is worse by far: he says to Pappy "You're too old to be young enough to build boats!"  He's also too old and perhaps too tired to properly fight back.  Surely there's comedy to be had from this grim situation?  Somewhere, somehow?
They got it!  Popeye begrudgingly agrees to let Pappy work on the boat with him.  He lets Pappy do one side of the boat, and Popeye will work on the other.  You can imagine how this turns out.  Popeye finds Pappy asleep, and making a strange trilling whistle noise to boot.  Pappy wakes up and declares "I was just restin' so I wouldn't get tired!"  And credit where it's due: Pappy's strong enough to blow his hat in the air (most people can't do that even while sleeping!) and he did make a decent stab at the wave effect on the boat.  Needles to say, Pappy gets mad anew when Popeye politely suggests that Pappy should stop being a damn freeloader and get the hell out of there... something like that.  Pappy's dander is up again... is that the same audio from before?  Oh well.  When a line reading's that good, it bears repeating at least once.  If they used it a third time, sure, go talk to the theater owner and ask for your money back.  Time for Feat of Strength #2.
Feat of Strength #2 involves putting the giant tree-sized mast up and onto the boat... just what size boat is Popeye building here, anywho?  Anywho, Pappy really looks tired now, and soon he's taking another much deserved break.  I mean, c'mon!  The guy walked to the job site, for God's sake!  If it were Bluto, he'd be driving and smoking a cigar.  Soon, Popeye's climbing up... oh, SPOILER ALERT, Pappy ends up at the top of the mast, so Popeye climbs up to get him down.  Pappy starts plummeting to the ground before Popeye can get to him, so Popeye has to quickly climb down and catch Pappy.  Lol.  Ah, cartoon physics.  How some people love to overexplain them to death.  Oh, it's so spinach time.  Just like meth helps certain people take apart their toasters and DVD players, turning screws with naught but their fingernails, spinach gives Popeye the focus and energy he needs to really turn this average boat into something damn seaworthy.
Now, I'm going to give a shout out to my artist fella friend who once defined art as a guy who rakes a big pile of leaves, disperses them again, then sets one on the ground delicately... something like that.  I knew I wouldn't do it justice... so too does Popeye arrange Pappy and himself so that it looks like Pappy built Popeye's new Super Tug all by his stony lonesome.  Naturally, either way it's fine with Pappy, and he happily walks off into the sunset, so to speak, singing his happy song from before... is that the same audio from before?  Oh well.  The laugh at the end is new!  Sure, this turn of events would make Ayn Rand turn in her grave, and turn the stomachs of her dozens of living followers, but that's how it goes sometimes.  Credit doesn't always go to where it's properly due.  Why, look at the derivatives market!

Good double bill with: what else?  The next Popeye cartoon, With Poopdeck Pappy!!!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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