Critic Reviews



Based on 14 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
It's clear that this movie has an affection for Popeye, and so much regard for the sailor man that it even bothers to reveal the real truth about his opinion of spinach.
Chicago Tribune
A charming, adult-oriented saga of the famous cartoon character that comes alive only when Popeye finds his baby, Swee'pea. [19 Dec 1980, p.10]
Slant Magazine
Altman directs the complex web of social interactions with a frame that’s both inclusive and prying. And the actors he collected and dropped in Malta’s simulated community help evoke an atmosphere that is genial yet guarded. Shelly Duvall couldn’t possibly have played Olive Oyl badly.
Even the flaws mesh with the overall fabric of the film in a way that impeccably choreographed musical numbers and fight scenes might not have. Altman reverses the emphasis of most mainstream family entertainments, which are about pace and snap, and instead favors a gentle, more inviting evocation of Sweethaven and its oddball inhabitants. Robert Evans wanted an answer to the Broadway hit Annie. Instead, he got a Robert Altman film.
Boston Globe
One of the major problems facing Hollywood today is the lack of will and energy to make movies that can charm youngsters without boring their parents. Popeye is an important contribution toward the solution. It's not a sophisticated film. But it's a gratifyingly engaging one. [12 Dec 1980, p.1]
The New York Times
Miss Duvall is superb - genteely ladylike one minute, a woman of volcanic passions the next.
It is more than faint praise to say that Popeye is far, far better than it might have been, considering the treacherous challenge it presented. But avoiding disaster is not necessarily the same as success.
Chicago Reader
Robert Altman's busy, detailed mise-en-scene, flattened cartoon-style through space-compacting long lenses, does capture some of the frenetic atmosphere of the Fleischer cartoons, but it tends to crowd out, and neutralize, the story values.
The film's real star is its magnificent set (filmed and constructed in Malta), though Williams manages to screw up his face and eye in a credible imitation of the drawings, and Duvall is perfect as the gangly Olive Oyl.
The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
A shamelessly commercial and determinedly vulgar director, such as Flash Gordon's Mike Hodges, might have made the film work; it might have succeeded on one level instead of failing on many. [13 Dec 1980, p.E7]

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