The last time a "Popeye" movie hit the big screen, it was supposed to transform Robin Williams from a TV star into a movie star. Robert Altman's live action reinvention of the big-forearmed sailor man with a penchant for spinach did not exactly set the world on fire and Robin Williams would have to wait before becoming a star of the silver screen.
The next time that a Popeye movie hits the big screen it will be in his traditional animated form, albeit with an extra added dimension. Genndy Tartakovsky sounds like a fearsome Soviet general whose very name struck fear in the heart of NATO, but is in fact a name immediately recognizable to just about anyone under the age of 30. Tartakovsky will be adding Popeye to his lineup of characters that range from a mad prepubescent genius named Dexter to a trio of equally young female superheroes.
The 3D Popeye experience actually has been in the early stages of development for about a year now. Screenwriters tackling the script for a 21st century incarnation-and, for a great many moviegoers, introduction-of Popeye include Jay Scherick and David Ronn. Tartakovsky is currently putting the finishing touches on "Hotel Transylvania" and apparently has done a good enough job on that project to be handed the prime post of directing the 3D animated adventures of the sailor man with the ridiculously skinny galpal.
No word yet on exactly what the details of the story worked on by those two scribes may be nor has there been confirmation as to whether Popeye's nemesis will be named Bluto or Brutus. The change in names of what has always been the same character regardless of moniker is one of the odder elements in the history of Popeye. Surely there is at least some fodder there for comic gain.
Tartakovsky needs to mine as much comedy from the material as he can since he is working with a clear handicap. Popeye is a beloved cartoon figure who has achieved iconic status just shortly below that of Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse and Homer Simpson. Still, Popeye's legend lives on mainly in the minds of those over 40 and the demographics may skew even older. The biggest challenge facing this enterprise is locating humor not just in a mostly unknown quantity but in a quantity where the humor is located in large part upon familiarity. The course of the typical Popeye cartoon short is far more predictable than the typical Warner Brothers cartoon and identification with the character creates a shorthand for getting the humor.
Tartakovsky and company must first introduce the characters and set their traits quickly into place before launching into the storyline. He essentially is going to have to create an origin story for a character woefully unfamiliar to the overwhelming bulk of his target audience.
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- Arts & Entertainment
- Genndy Tartakovsky
- Robin Williams
- Popeye cartoon