Tuesday, March 03, 2015

...oh, I get it!

Maybe it's happening anyway, but I blame the internet nevertheless.  I almost totally forgot "For he's a jolly good fellow."  Strange, because it sure is used in cartoons a whole lot.  And so, A Jolly Good Furlough is the pun we get for our next Popeye cartoon.  Yes, we took a little break from the racial stereotypes last week, but we're making up for lost time now!
We start with Popeye single-handedly taking on a miniature version of Iwo Jima by himself... as in, he's in a rowboat, punching giant battleship-sized shells to fire them.  His torpedoes scare the enemies' torpedoes, thereby doubling his firepower against the enemy.  The whole island blows up in a semi-giant explosion, and the island sinks into the ocean, again to the sound of a toilet flushing.  Boy!  We must be in for an even bigger ending to the cartoon proper!
And so, thanks to Popeye's hard work against the enemy, he's granted some time off to rest up (his fist must really be sore).  I believe the carrier pigeon that brings the message is supposed to sound like Ed Wynn.  Where would cartoons of this era be without him?  And so, we move from the frenzy of war to the even worse frenzy of adjusting to domestic life.  I don't know if this is groundbreaking stuff, plot-wise, but it seems to me that it's unusual for a kid's cartoon.  Is it The Best Years of Our Lives?  Or, more currently, Stop-Loss or The Hurt Locker?  Popeye should know better than to be such an optimist when it comes to visiting his nephews, but there we are.
Trouble starts courtesy of Olive and her tire-less car... what IS it with these wagon wheels on cars with shoes on them?  First time was funny two cartoons ago, this time's supposed to be silly, but the next one gets a spanking.  Popeye gets run over by Olive's very fast car, and she lovingly says "I'm glad I ran across you!"  Well, can't argue with a good punchline.  That's just the beginning, of course.
To cut to the chase, after Popeye's four nephews almost hit Popeye with an axe and various garden implements, Popeye finds out what the nephews have been up to on the domestic front in the war effort.  As it turns out... well, frankly I just don't know how to assess whether what they're doing is good or bad.  Ultimately for Popeye, bad.  For one thing, one of the nephews is going crazy with a can of invisible paint.  I know it says "Camouflage Paint" on the can, but we've seen Popeye using camouflage paint before.  You get four shades of grey out of it, and they're in interlocking leaf shapes... something like that.  The stuff the nephews are using is stone-cold invisible paint, and they're using it on everything.  Popeye gets painted with it and finds himself in a dilemma similar to what Bugs Bunny finds himself in in Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid.  Oh yeah, one or two of you out there know what I'm talkin' 'bout!  One of the nephews says "Enemy plane overhead!" and that really kicks in Popeye's PTSD.  Popeye starts freaking out and trying to free himself from the hole he ended up in.
And it goes on and on like that.  There's some bees, there's a nice Hoover joke... isn't it about 11 years after all that was over?  Oh well.  Risk vs. reward.  To cut to the chase again, much like Betty Boop found the country much more annoying than the city, Popeye decides to cut his "vacation" short and head back to war, where the dividing line between good guys and bad guys was a little clearer.  I guess it was wisdom on the filmmakers' part to include the wacky carrier pidgeon to lighten things up a bit.

-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan

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