Popeye Movie Poster Image




An eccentric take on Popeye and friends.
  • Review Date: October 11, 2005
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release Year: 1980
  • Running Time: 113 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable
Violence & scariness

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

Sexy stuff
Not applicable

A few instances of very mild cursing.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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 Popeye is "eccentric." It's 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:December 12, 1980
DVD release date:June 24, 2003
Cast:Ray Walston, Robin Williams, Shelley Duvall
Director:Robert Altman
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Topics:Misfits and underdogs
Run time:113 minutes
MPAA rating:PG

This review of Popeye was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.


Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 13 years old Written byrobinrunner March 29, 2011

Enjoyable and a true classic that more people should take time to view.

Robin Williams rocked the role of popeye. It's hard to believe that this guy is also Mrs. Dobtfire and the voice of the Genie in Aladdin. I wouldn't show it to kids less than the age of five because the movie can get a little creepy for no reason when watching this.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great role models
Parent of a 17 and 17 year old Written byW V Hutch September 16, 2010

Ya gotta' have some age on yo to really appreciate it.

It took inginuty & pure talent to bring this movie to life.Those who don't like it never liked Popeye. One of Robin Williams finest.
Parent of a 9 and 11 year old Written byiret July 7, 2010

We weren't expecting a musical...

We weren't expecting a musical; the movie opens with a song! Overall, it was a cute, goofy movie that my boys enjoyed (once the shock of it being a musical wore off). FYI ~ The "few instances of mild cursing" referenced in the Common Sense rating includes about 5 minutes of Poopdeck Pappy ranting "haul-ass, haul-ass" during a boat pursuit. If you have a kiddo who likes to repeat movie lines, I suggest previewing the boat chase scene.
What other families should know
Too much swearing


Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?