Just when I thought I’d reached my maximum height of film-geek nirvana, basking in the effervescent glow of the impending “Marmaduke” and “Smurfs” major motion pictures, Sony Pictures has seen fit to further shower me with cinematic fairy-dust from the heavens. Oh, blessed are we who foolishly dream so small …
In a recent announcement, brought to us by the distinguished industry insiders over at Variety, the studio announced that it will be hauling Popeye, the be-muscled, spinach-luvin’ sailor man originally created by E.C. Segar back in 1929, out of mothballs and depositing him onto a theatre screen near you — in eyeball-tickling 3D, no less. Will wonders — or my sarcasm — never cease?
The CG-animated project will be overseen and produced by former-Marvel Studios overlord Avi Arad, and penned by relative newcomer Mike Jones. Although story details are being kept under lock-and-key, the filmmakers guarantee that the colourful adventure will prominently feature beloved supporting characters Bluto, Olive Oyl and Swee’Pea. (Curiously, Wimpy’s name is nowhere to be seen within the piece. Could his hamburger binge-eating be viewed as too potentially insensitive for our often hyper P.C. age? Further investigation may be required …)
Arad also promises that the movie will tackle “themes of friendship, love, greed and life, and focus on human strengths and human frailties.” Sometime between all the wacky windmill punches, spinach-inhalation, Olive Oyl shrieks and rousing recitals of the “Popeye” theme song, one would imagine.
This new venture will, of course, be the character’s first trip back to the Cineplex since 1980, when Robert Altman’s bizarre live-action musical adaptation, starring Robin Williams, left many scratching their heads and demanding refunds. It should be noted, however, that despite that disastrous initial box-office performance, Altman’s “Popeye” has become something of a minor cult hit, with a respectable fan-base singing its praises. I vaguely recall seeing it when I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper, and being utterly, utterly baffled as to why Bluto’s shirt turned yellow after his climactic bout with Popeye. I think I get it now. Sorta.
While it’s easy to mock this project (perhaps too easy…) it makes perfect sense why Sony sees it as a viable business opportunity. Popeye is an iconic, easily-recognizable entity, and a film bearing his name and presence would be a pretty easy-sell. It would also require very little effort to retrofit him and his animated universe for an audience of modern young ‘uns and their nostalgic parents. Heck, if those dang-blasted “Alvin and the Chipmunks” movies can rake in 200-mill a pop, why couldn’t “Popeye?”
Certainly, this flick won’t really be up mine or many IJM readers’ alleys, but, if done well, the final results might turn out, um, cute. And maybe then they’ll finally put proper “Popeye Candy Cigarettes” back to shelves. Cuz I gotta tell you, I’ve had a mean fix for a pack of those for far too long now …
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Follow Cam Smith on Twitter at http://twitter.com/camspcepisodes.