Monday, February 23, 2015

The Bluto Can't Help It

SPOILER ALERT ... has Popeye ever dressed up in drag?  I guess this is a first.  Well, when the opportunity presents itself... who wouldn't?  Thankfully, it's a rare opportunity, but movie conventions dictate that whoever does the dressing up in drag can't be too good at it, and Popeye's not one to break those kinds of conventions in our next Popeye short, called Too Weak to Work.
The basic setup is similar to My Pop, My Pop but the twist is that Bluto and Popeye are building boats together... and by together, I mean that Popeye's doing all the work.  In a pre-spinach feat of strength, Popeye's holding up a boat with BLUTO STILL IN IT!!! Dayamn.  How Popeye doesn't break his back, I'll never know.  But Bluto grows weary of painting while holding a paintbrush between his toes... who wouldn't, frankly?  That's why this year my resolution was to hold chopsticks with my feet.  You know, to help me lose weight; maybe learn a new skill in the process.  Anyway, Bluto gets the idea that a nice rest in a hospital is the cure for what ails him.  But the cost of health care was high even then, and Bluto is going to learn the hard way that, even in a comedy, one does not tread lightly into a hospital.  Never go in because you want to go in.  Same with prisons; I'll be very surprised if a member of the Popeye family tries to do that one.
And so, cut to: Bluto in a hospital bed, covered in hot water bottles.  Popeye comes to visit, and Bluto quietly says "Go away!"  Oh, dude... that's cold.  I guess he remembered some of Popeye's spinach-induced beatings of yore or something.  Anyway, the premise of the Second Act is hammered to death when Bluto asks Popeye, "Get me a nurse... a pretty nurse!"  And so, Popeye ventures out into the halls of the hospital, and repeats the request, half for himself, half for the benefit of the audience.  Popeye's got to find a nurse... a pretty nurse.  AND THEN.... Popeye hears it.  Bluto in his very large hospital room, laughing and rolling around in a wheelchair.  Well, that tears it.  Time for some revenge.  But not just any revenge will do in this situation.  What to do, what to do....
And so, the notion is bourne, and Popeye returns to Bluto's room, posing as a female nurse.  The comedy conventions dictate that he constantly catch himself not using a feminine enough voice, which he does.  Conventions also dictate that Bluto is just so horrified by this nurse ("She's old enough to be my grandmudda!" he mutters to himself), so gripped by his fears that he doesn't notice that it's actually Popeye in drag... which he does.
And so, Popeye has a little fun with Bluto, putting him through various tests and regimens, which arguably is also part of the conventions, but it's the part where the filmmakers get to shine and show some originality.  Putting Bluto into a steam room and shrinking him down to the size of a mouse?  That's... kind of original, isn't it?  After all, Lonesome Lenny came out in '46, no?  Now, there's one gag that's arguably borderline.  To bring Bluto back to regular size, Popeye pumps him full of oxygen.  However, Popeye uses too much, and Bluto ends up floating away into the sky... let's leave aside the erroneous chemistry for now, and just focus on the possible copyright infringements here.  Now, there's a very very similar gag in the Three Stooges' short, Dizzy Pilots, as you may recall.  However, I rule in favour of Too Weak to Work, because the release date of Dizzy Pilots is in September of 1943, while Weak has a release date of March 1943.  Case dismissed.  Don't get me wrong, however.  I'm as concerned about copyright infringement as the next person.  I mean, it's not like I'm going to illegally post a documentary about churches in certain Seattle neighborhoods on YouTube or something.  I'm not a complete monster.
Anyway, no thanks to Popeye and his tinkering, Bluto is now actually in need of medical attention.  Why, it seems that Popeye is now the Bluto in this equation!  Aided by Big Pharma, no less!  But no amount of medicine, alternative or regular, that can bring Bluto back to normal and maybe give him a little get up and go.  CUE THE INDUSTRIAL-GRADE SPINACH PUMP!!!!  And so, much like our previous Popeye cartoon, Seein' Red, White 'n' Blue, Bluto is engulfing spinach and becoming a fearless, supercharged instrument of industry, helping America to win WWII.  That's right, even a task as menial as painting rowboats aids the war effort.  Of course, Popeye ends up painted and hanging off some rowboat hooks, but that's kinda on him this time.

Good double bill with: My Pop, My Pop or Hospitaliky

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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