Popeye and Poopdeck Pappy in GOONLAND (1938) – Where the father-and-child reunion is only a cartoon away


(WARNING: Major spoilers abound!)

Popeye is sailing a boat and singing a song about how he wants to find his long-lost “pappy,” who deserted Popeye after taking one look at him when he was born. We have just seen Popeye’s psyche scrambled all over a movie screen.

Popeye sees smoke coming from what turns out to be Goon Island. When Popeye goes ashore, he comes across the Goons. I could probably spend an entire website trying to describe their appearance. Suffice to say, they’re tall, lanky, mute, not especially friendly, and look like more psyche come to life.

Popeye follows a Goon all the way into his village and only then decides he doesn’t want to get caught by the other Goons, so, in a lovely piece of animated contortion, he disguises himself and tries to pass himself off as a Goon. And if seeing the lanky, stoop-shouldered, resigned Goons isn’t a weird enough sight, check out that Goon with the chest-baring strut.

Popeye happens upon a barred window, looks in, and sees his grey-haired pappy sitting alone, playing checkers with himself. Popeye tries to have a heartfelt reunion with his dad, but Pappy only sputters, “I don’t like relatives! What’cha want me to do, kiss ya?” This cartoon has more issues than a magazine stand.

Pappy finally loosens up when he sees Popeye getting dragged away by a gang of Goons. The Goons throw away Popeye’s much-needed can of spinach, and it rolls toward Pappy’s window. This is something Pappy can relate to. Who knew spinach was such a comfort food? Naturally, Pappy manages to reach the spinach, swallow it, and break out of prison. Aw, look, Popeye inherited his daddy’s muscles!

Pappy saves Popeye just as the Goons are about to drop a boulder on him. Just when father and son are having a tearful reunion, more Goons descend on them. But the Fates (in the form of the Fleischers) will not allow such a joyous occasion to be voided — they let their film break, and the Goons fall out of the frame. (It’s a cop-out, I know, but a brilliantly animated one.)

At least forty years too late, Popeye finally finds happiness as his father carries him away in his arms. Well, blow me nose!

On a rating scale of 1 to 4 spinach cans, I give this cartoon: CanCanCanCan


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