Wednesday, October 01, 2014

To Sleep... Perchance to Rub Elbows With the Greats

As with Popeye meeting William Tell, Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle is probably true to its source material on the one hand.  On the other hand... meh.  Good thing I've got way too much schoolwork to do, and no time to do this anymore, otherwise I'd have paid half-assed lip service to the great Popeye shorts... oh, right.  Well, if there's one thing I learned from my roommates over the years, it's this: when you make the choice to ride the coattails of a public figure such as Popeye, the ride is a lot like an elevator.  You have to know when to get off on the top floor.  And with this volume three, clearly the elevator is on its way back down.  The only exception to the elevator rule, of course, is Paul McCartney.  He's still got it, and will never get rid of it.
But back to Popeye.  Once again, Popeye finds himself in strangely European surroundings.  Look at those houses!  Dutch?  Slavic?  ...ooh!  Almost forgot.  Popeye has trouble with his pipe, blowing a note with it, anyhow... did David Koepp write this?  "I gotta clear me flume," mutters Popeye.  After that introductory episode, he runs across a guy being dispossessed from his house and... oh my garshk!  It's Rip Van Winkle!  We read the sign on his house, which says, amongst other things, "Rip Van Winkle won't sleep here anymore."  Popeye starts to continue his morning walk and... uh oh.  I guess ol' Van Winkle must remind Popeye of his pappy or something.  And so, Popeye carries Wink back home so he can get some sleep indoors.
But as Bugs Bunny said in Hare Tonic, "Wait!  This setup's too good!"  ...I'll explain further.  Elmer buys Bugs at the store and is taking him home to make rabbit fricassee.  Elmer's moved to the suburbs!  A step up.  Meanwhile, Bugs makes a sound like the phone ringing and sneaks out of the house.  Deciding that his escape was far too easy, Bugs devises a plan to f... mess with Elmer's mind.  While the setup of Popeye Meets Rip Van Winkle isn't as interesting, dramatically, or even from a literary perspective... or perhaps any perspective at all to some... clearly these two acts aren't enough.  Meeting Van Winkle and taking him home?  We need one more plot wrinkle, for Gawd'z zake!  Thankfully, we get one when Van Winkle starts sleepwalking.  Rip sleepwalks right out of Popeye's house, and Popeye has to go looking for him.
Okay, credit where credit's due; this part's kind of interesting.  Funny, even!  Even though nothing today is funny unless it involves something gross.  Thanks, Farrelly brothers!  Popeye's wandering outside in the Dutch countryside when... lightning strikes.  The thunder?  Bowling pins getting knocked over!  Love it.  As Popeye gets closer, the thunder and lightning get a little closer to earth.  Turns out it's a bunch of midgets bowling, and nature is all too happy to amplify the excitement of their game.  As Joel Coen once quipped, the bowling community is desperate for any publicity for what is basically a moribund sport.  Boy, some people just don't know how to have fun with friends.  Anyway, Popeye tries to shush the thunderous bowlers, even though Rip Van is fast asleep with no signs of waking any time soon... he snores a little like Pappy, don't he?  Alas, these aren't good tempered, easygoing midgets.  They take offense at Popeye's intrusion, and one of them even climbs up Popeye's body to punch him in the face!  I wonder if one of the writers has seen things in their local bar... oh, I get it now.  Perhaps this is a dig at Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.  I guess Disney didn't present a passionate enough legal argument to prevent this film from getting released.  I mean, damn, are these guys rude!  Popeye doesn't even try to be diplomatic.  "I don't fight with infinks!  If I was your size..."
The dwar... I mean, the little guys all gang up on Popeye and punch Popeye down to their size.  (See also: The Screwy Truant featuring Screwy Squirrel!... damn, not on the YouTubes.)  And try as he might, Popeye just can't get his legs back to regular length.  Lol.  One of the dwarves throws a punch and Popeye goes rolling down the alley, knocking down the pins.  Popeye answers in kind, and throws a perfect strike for good measure.  Oh, it's so spinach time.  Alas, Popeye doesn't give those guys the beating they clearly deserve.  For once, Popeye just walks away... or rather, runs away, carrying Rip Van Winkle with him.  Hey, get a room, guys!
Next scene: Popeye's tucking Rip V. Winkle back into bed, taking special care of his beard again.  Popeye puts Rip's pants over a chair back, when suddenly... a coin falls out.  This wakes Rip up... really?  Seriously?  That's how you're going to end this?  I coulda sworn that gag had been done to death with Swee'pea already, and with Poopdeck Pappy to an extent.  The Ernie Kovacs-esque visual gag at the end was a tad predictable as well.
Welp, apparently two literary characters was enough for Popeye, and frankly, I can't blame him.  Popeye's enough of an egomaniac as it is, and he doesn't seem to be the sociable type in general to tolerate the company of another one.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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