Movie review by
M. Faust, Common Sense Media
Popeye Movie Poster Image
An eccentric take on Popeye and friends.
  • PG
  • 1980
  • 113 minutes

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 4 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages
Violence & Scariness

Cartoonish fights between Popeye and several villains, including his nemesis, Bluto.

Sexy Stuff

A few instances of very mild cursing.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that kids will hear a few instances of very mild cursing and see cartoonish fights between Popeye and several villains, including his nemesis Bluto.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymmcqui01 March 15, 2020

Decent live action version of cartoon

Those familiar with and enjoyed the cartoon will appreciate this one. Otherwise the eccentric nature and exaggerated performances will be lost on the viewer an... Continue reading
Adult Written byLowe's man September 22, 2014

Enjoyable for everyone, but especially for true Popeye fans.

Although the movie isn't as good as the cartoon (and to expect that it would be would've been outlandish), it's up there. Paramount and Disney c... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old June 29, 2020

a tad bit more smoking than in the tv show.

common sense media didn't even put a dot on drinking,drugs and smoking! and the violence is slapstick not scary even in the octopus scene you can see that... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byBananaGoat February 23, 2020
This movie has a few bad words, but I think they’ll fly right over younger kids heads. Parts of it can be a bit scary though, so if you’re watching this with yo... Continue reading

What's the story?

Director Robert Altman's live action POPEYE stars Robin Williams as the spinach-eating sailor of newspaper and cartoon fame. Popeye (Robin Williams) drops anchor in Sweethaven, a ramshackle little seaside town where the buildings are as odd as their inhabitants. He rents a room in the Oyl household, which is preparing for the upcoming engagement of daughter Olive (Shelly Duvall). Her prospective fiancé is Bluto, who runs the town for his boss, the feared but seldom-seen Commodore. Sweethaven isn't the friendliest place in the world (the major industry seems to be taxation), but it becomes a home to Popeye when he adopts a foundling. Swee'Pea, as he names the child, helps forge a bond between him and Olive Oyl, to the chagrin of Bluto. And Popeye's sense that this is the place to search for his father proves to be correct.

Is it any good?

Perhaps the best word to describe this film is "eccentric." Popeye is one of those movies that you either love or hate. Director Robert Altman and writer Jules Pfeiffer took their inspiration from the original newspaper comic strips, in which Popeye and the residents of Sweethaven offered commentary on the hard times of the 1930s. The performers do an admirable job of enlivening the characters, but those characters are sometimes so charmless that you wonder why they bothered. Shelly Duvall is especially good at portraying Olive Oyl, though a little of her goes a long way. Robin Williams has Popeye's gait and mumble, but his dialogue seldom rewards the effort it takes to hear it.

Altman put obvious effort and expense into designing the town of Sweethaven, but his trademark style, in which the camera seems to drift aimlessly around, is poorly suited to showing it off. Altman has a similar problem with the songs Harry Nilsson composed for the movie -- they're often lovely, but given the naturalistic style in which they're used, they simply fade away before we can notice them.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about remakes and nostalgia. Why make a movie that essentially reproduces a cartoon popular when many of today's parents were children? Do you think it's harder or easier than creating new characters, new themes, new stories? Is there an element of safety in remaking a once-popular cartoon?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love comedy

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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