This may seem confusing but this film is so bad but I still love it.
Released in 1980, this Robert Altman film was not given the script it should have. It had a great cast. Robin Williams, in his first staring role and Shelley Duvall, coming off her role in The Shining, lead a cast that would be recognizable over the next few decades. Paul Smith (as Bluto) would be seen again in Dune. Paul Dooley (as Wimpy) would play Molly Ringwald's dad in Sixteen Candles. Richard Libertini (as Geezil) would play the guru in the movie All Of Me. Ray Walston (as Poopdeck Pappy) would play Mr. Hand in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. David Moffat (as the Taxman) would play LBJ in The Right Stuff. Linda Hunt (as Mrs. Oxheart) would win an oscar for her role in The Year Of Living Dangerously (she's also reunite with Paul Smith in Dune). Dennis Franz (as Spike) would be nominated for an emmy award all 8 years he played Detective Andy Sipowicz on the television show NYPD Blue, winning 4 times. And in a small nod to the music in the film, Klaus Voormann (as the band leader) was once the artist that created several album covers for the Beatles and would play bass for the band Manfred Mann.
The story is all over the place: Popeye is looking for his father and comes to Sweethaven to find him. Olive Oyl is getting engaged to Bluto and during her engagement party, she and Popeye find an abandoned baby, which Popeye names Swee'pea. Bluto destroys the Oyl house when he learns that Olive has skipped out on the engagement and beats up Popeye. To pay for the taxes that Bluto imposes on the Oyl family, Olive's brother, Castor, signs up to compete against a local prize fighter, Oxblood Oxheart. When Castor fails, Popeye jumps into the ring and beats Oxblood. The next day, Olive tells Popeye that Swee'pea can tell the future. Wimpy takes Swee'pea to a gambling riverboat and uses Swee'pea's ability to win at the horse races. Bluto kidnaps Swee'pea so that he and the Commodore, who runs the town, can get rich. SPOILER ALERT** The Commodore is really Popeye's father, but since we meet the Commodore only 3 minutes before we learn that he's Popeye's father, its all ok. Popeye confronts Bluto and saves Olive, Swee'pea and dispatches a giant squid all to bring the film to a happy ending....well as happy as you can be after 120 minutes of this script.
But the saving grace for this film is the songs and the performance of Robin Williams. With most of the songs being relatively catchy and the visuals for each musical number being so layered and full of sight gags, the songs will stick with you. Robin's ability to immerse himself into a role was on full display from the first scene. Most of his little asides and comments were ad libbed and added to the performance. Seeing him with bleached blond hair and rubber arms is still very odd but he sells the character.
The set was built in Malta and still exists and is a tourist attraction. It was a fully functioning town and every scene of the film was filmed within the town, no studio sound stages used in this film.
Please enjoy the trailer for the film and take the time to watch the whole film. Its so bad, its good.....sorta.