Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Popeye Versus the Volcano

Well, it can't all be about fighting the Axis Powers, can it?  Popeye takes a break from fighting them, mostly the Japanese for now, and his thoughts drift from fighting to loving in our next Popeye short, Alona on the Sarong Seas.  (not as racist as I thought it was going to be, BTW!  But maybe that's just me)  But Popeye is a monogamist at heart and, in a similar vein as the Beach Boys, Popeye wishes that all goils were Olive Oyl goils.  And so, Princess Alona is a more tropical version of Olive.  Still, when Olive finds out about her, she's going to be pissed.
As in the rest of the animal kingdom, however, there's fierce competition over increasingly scarce resources.  Anyway, what is love without risk?  Why, what about the thrill of the chase?  What I'm trying to get at is, Bluto's right there at Popeye's side, but somehow his heart's just not in it.  Also, Bluto seems to have a new different voice.  Sounds a bit like the great Jackson Beck, but no credit is given!  Also, the IMDb page for Sarong Seas says Margie Hines does the voice for OLIVE and not Princess Alona!  Sloppy work, guys and gals.  Sloppy work.
So not only is Bluto's heart not in it, but Princess Alona goes surfing right by the battle cruiser that Popeye and Bluto are languishing upon.  Popeye sees his destiny and dives in the water, with Bluto soon after... incidentally, how do they arrange these things so people don't get hurt?  Take Blues Brothers 1, for example, and the part where all the Illinois Nazis dive into the water.  Did they all jump in different places?  You're telling me not one Illinois Nazi hit another Illinois Nazi?  I highly doubt it.  Highly.
Anyway, I'll just stick to the highlights for now.  It's a pretty standard story otherwise.  I'm reminded of that one about the conga caf√©.  There's courtship, there's ritual dancing, what have you.  Popeye and Bluto emerge from the water and do the conga to get the fish out of their sailors outfits.  There's a little bit of tawdriness, however!  The three do a dive off of a high cliff at different intervals, and when each lands in the water, their clothes float to the surface.  Thankfully, the Hays Code keeps it tasteful.  These days, Lord knows.  Even on Cartoon Network!
Screenwriters, take note.  I would like to give a shout-out to banana-related gags.  It escapes me at the moment, but Stan Laurel did his take on the banana gag.  One time he peeled a banana to find it empty, and the accompanying background music underlied the horror of the situation, as well as Ollie's expression.  And I believe it was in Horse Feathers where Adolph... I mean, Harpo had a banana with a zipper on it.  Let's see if Yahoo bears me out... will bear me out!  Then, of course, there's the giant futuristic bananas of Woody Allen's Bananas... I mean, Sleeper.  Here, in Sarong Seas, there's a new take on the banana gag, the likes of which I've never seen.  Olive / Princess Alona dives off a rock and starts to eat a banana.  She's falling through the air, you see, and as she's peeling the banana, the wind pushes the peel back into place!  GENIUS!!!!  Unadulterated, Jack Brown Genius.  Real Genuis.  Flash of Genius.  Terminator GeniSys... wait, skip that last one.
As an online movie critic, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that, much like the Iago to the bad guy of Aladdin 1 (1992), Olive/Princess Alona has a pet parrot as well.  Well, they seem more like brother and sister actually, especially since the parrot can talk and all.  Probably voiced by Jack Mercer.  And so, Popeye and Bluto eventually get close enough to touch Princess Alona, when the parrot has to intervene and hold up its hand/wing to say "STOP!"  Then the decree is laid down: you two better be nice to Princess Alona, or the volcano on the island will get mad and blow up.  Why, it rumbles in response, as if to say "The parrot ain't lyin'!"  Bluto ain't buying it, of course.  To cut to the chase, Bluto's got Alona cornered... oh, which reminds me.  To get back to the laziness of Bluto in this one, Sarong Seas seems to contain the laziest reason for Popeye to eat spinach and subsequently beat the crap out of Bluto.  Let's say that We Aim to Please is a 9 and Shoein' Hosses is a 10 (but it goes to 11) in terms of Bluto's cruelty to Popeye, I'd say that this is about a 1 or a 2.  Sure, Bluto pulls back the tree as Popeye climbs up it and lets it go, a move seen way more often in these Tom and Jerry cartoons, but in terms of cruelty, doesn't seem that cruel.  Maybe I'm just a sadist at heart, I don't know.  But back to the nitpicking.  Bluto sets Popeye in motion, and Mother Nature adds the cruelty.  Popeye slides up a coconut tree, and here's where the filmmakers let us down yet again.  See those coconuts all lined up like bowling pins?  Well, when Popeye hits them, it's going to sound like bowling pins, right?  WRONG!  Epic fail.
Okay, I'll really cut to the chase this time.  Bluto's nearly at Alona's side.  The volcano starts to erupt.  Meanwhile, a whole herd of alligators is about to eat Popeye.  Somehow, the parrot knows that Popeye's the good guy in this story.  Maybe just the lesser of two evils, I don't know.  Again, American Imperialism.  And so, the parrot goes to revive the knocked-out Popeye.  Gets the can of spinach!  Opens it with its can-opener-like beak!  Popeye springs into action.  Oh, what Popeye does to that line of alligators... too cruel.  Let's just say that we need a new ouroboros-type word for crocodiles eating their own tails.  Let's leave it at that.


And so, Popeye gives Bluto one good sock to the jaw, and Bluto flies far far away up to the volcano.  Bluto drops into the mouth of the volcano and plugs it up, thereby preventing a further eruption, and also giving birth to any number of similar gags involving Homer Simpson.
And so... at last, Popeye and Princess Alona / Tropical Olive are alone.  Popeye goes in for the big kiss and... what's this?  SPOILER ALERT: It was all a dream!  He ends up kissing Bluto instead.  Bluto hits Popeye over the head with a guitar, but Popeye's so blissed out thinking about Princess Alona that he doesn't care!  But really, when you get right down to it... aren't all relationships like that?

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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