A 1980 MusicalLive-Action Adaptation starring Robin Williams as the eponymous character and directed by Robert Altman, with a song score by Harry Nilsson.The plot is an origin story of sorts — Popeye arrives in the town of Sweetwater searching for his long lost pappy (Ray Walston) and winds up caught in a Love Triangle with Olive Oyl (Shelley Duvall) and Bluto (Paul L. Smith).The movie grossed more than twice its enormous budget in the U.S. alone (it took two studios to mount it — Paramount and Disney), but received extremely mixed reviews from critics.
The Popeye movie provides examples of:
Adult Fear: One minute, Popeye and his adopted kid are being congratulated by the entire town for getting rid of the hated tax collector. And suddenly, he realizes that somewhere in the crowd, Swee'Pea disappeared.
Auteur License: Robert Altman, best-known at the time for iconoclastic comedies and dramas like M*A*S*H and Nashville, getting the reins to a family musical is a perfect example of this. Because the film wasn't as profitable as hoped and reviews were so mixed, he immediately lost it and while he did a lot of film and TV work over the rest of The Eighties, none of it got mainstream attention until 1992's The Player, which triggered a Career Resurrection.
Continuity Nod: A lot of them. While the movie was criticized for not being very faithful to the original cartoons, it actually has a lot in common with the original Thimble Theater comic.
Cut Song: "Din' We" didn't make it into the final film, though it did make it onto the soundtrack album. "I'm Mean" and "Kids" are missing from European cuts (likely because they contain swear words and Disney, which had only started releasing PG movies the previous year, handled the European release).
"He's tall... good lookin'... and he's large... he's large... large... tall... large..."
Diner Brawl: Popeye first springs into action at the aptly named Rough House. (As the gang taunts him in the leadup to the brawl, note that the workers are setting up gates/barracades, suggesting that this trope is a common occurance there!)
Does Not Like Spam: Popeye does not like spinach. No, really! (Not until the very last scene, anyway.) Not as farfetched as it sounds: When the character first debuted, wayback in 1919 in Thimble Theater, he found out about spinach the same way.
Driven to Suicide: Popeye over losing Swee'Pea, in a scene that was cut because it was considered too dark.
Evil Debt Collector: The Tax Man will come up with all sorts of frivolous charges to get arbitrary amounts of tax.
Follow the Leader: Paramount Pictures wasn't able to get the film rights to Annie, an extremely popular musical adapted from a comic strip — so a comic strip/cartoon character they did own the movie rights to had a musical built around him instead.
Funny Background Event: All over the place. From the first scenes we see all the extra background characters and main characters doing something at any given moment throughout, such as the hairy, bearded hobo who is seen taking a random swim in one scene, and Popeye ripping off the helm of the commodore's boat trying to steer it.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: The "house of ill re-pukes" that Wimpy takes Swee'pea to in order to bet on horses is not only a place of gambling but clearly also a brothel. It's never directly stated, but the following dialogue as Popeye and the Oyls enter the place make very little room for doubt:
Popeye: What is this, a house of ill re-pukes? Ooh, who'd bring me infink to this den o' immoraliky? (to Olive) Don't touch nothin', you might get a venerable disease. Lady of "ill re-pukes": Oooh, is that a bed pole you got in your pocket, handsome?
The entire reason Bluto goes sideways on seeing Popeye, Olive, and Swee'pea together is that he thinks that she had sex with Popeye and produced a child with him!
Hilariously Abusive Childhood: It's clear from Popeye's stories from his childhood that his pap was not a good father, even before he abandoned him. It's all Played for Laughs, since Popeye seems to either be in denial or trying to make excuses for his father.
"One thing I remember about me pap was that he always used to throw me up in the air. Yeah, heh heh... but he'd never be there when I come down, you know. Heh heh heh. Boy, he had a sensek'a humor, didn't he? Yeah, that was me pap. I remember the time he gave me a electric eel as a toy. Hah hah hah — eep! Hah, yeah, that was fun. Or, or he'd rock me cradle real, real, real hard and I'd lose me formula. And then he'd say 'One day, you'll be a sailor.' Heh heh heh, that's... that's what I yam today, yeah. Hm. Yeah. Sometimes he'd bounce me on his knee. Heh heh, most o' the time he'd miss, though, 'cos he couldn't see too well with one eye.... heh heh heh, oh, me pap, yeah..."
"I Am" Song: Along with "I'm Popeye the Sailor Man", which serves as the film's finale, Popeye gets "I Yam What I Yam".
At Olive and Bluto's engagement party a man can be heard complaining about Olive getting married. This man is Ham Gravy, who was Olive's fiance in the original Thimble Theater comic strip before he was Put on a Bus and Popeye took his place.
Swee'pea's introduction in the movie is a big Shout-Out to the way he was introduced in the comic strip. note In the comic, he arrives in a package addressed to Popeye, and the package makes so many strange sounds that Popeye and Wimpy think it must contain a dangerous animal and are about to kill it when they discover that the package contains a baby. In the movie, Popeye picks up a basket which he mistakes for Olive's, and Olive hears the baby's rattle and is convinced that there's a rattlesnake in the basket, and Popeye opens the basket to deal with the dangerous creature before he discovers it's a baby.
When Rough House asks who's going pay for the burger Wimpy replies "I'm buying, he's paying." This was one of his Catch Phrases in the original comic strip.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Only Bluto could be so stupid as to force Popeye to eat his spinach, and get the mega-knuckle sandwich he so deserves because of that.
Number One Dime: One of Bluto's motivations for villainy (other than "I'm mean, if you know what I mean") is getting his hands on Poopdeck Pappy's treasure. When the treasure is finally revealed, it turns out to be things like pictures of Popeye (Pappy's son) as an "infink", Popeye's baby rattle, his baby booties, and other sentimental mementos of Popeye's childhood.
Origin Story: As with many movies that have launched superhero franchises, this is a tale of how Popeye gets started.
Parental Bonus: The town drunk is named Barnacle Bill, a reference to a Bawdy Song from the early 20th century. "Beware of Barnacle Bill" was even the name of an early Popeye cartoon, which contains a cleaned-up version of the song (and with Bluto in the role of Barnacle Bill). Behold!
Precision F-Strike: There's a precision D strike in "I'm Mean". Popeye also jumps off a ship shouting "Oh, shee-yit!" near the end.
Red Eyes, Take Warning: When Bluto sees Olive with Popeye and the newly found Swee'Pea when she arrives late for their engagement party, he gets the wrong idea and his eyes glow red with anger, complete with a POV shot. See below.
Something Only They Would Say: When Popeye is trying to prove to Pappy that he's his son, Pappy tells him there's only one way he can be convinced. "Eat the spinach." Once Popeye refuses to eat it, whining like a baby, Pappy is convinced that he's his son.
Strange Salute: While the Sweethaven civic (?) anthem plays before the boxing match, the townspeople hold their hands over their heads.
Stylistic Suck: Bluto's red eyes POV shot is just Popeye, Olive and Swee'Pea dressed in red in front of a red background. A similar Visual Pun comes at the end of the movie when Bluto "turns yellow" — i.e. he's dressed in yellow as he swims away.
Super Mode: Popeye finally transforms into his famous Spinach Mode at the end after being force fed spinach by Bluto. However, you only get to see his enlarged arms uppercutting Bluto from underwater.
Villain Song: Bluto has "I'm Mean" and his part of "It's Not Easy Being Me".