A Golden Globe-nominated*, lustrous performance by Alan Arkin highlights [this] well-done ethnic comedy-drama (Blockbuster Entertainment Guide) about an eccentric father with an outrageous scheme to give his sons a bette... more »r life. Arkin is 'superb (Los Angeles Times) as Abraham, a single Puerto Rican father struggling to raise his two sons. But as he watches his boys slide deeper into the ghetto, Abraham seizes on an outlandish plan to give his boys a better life: He sets them adrift in a boat off the Florida coast, hoping that they will be rescued and raised by a wealthy family! But when his kids are taken in by the authorities and he is declared an unfit father, Abraham takes a courageous standrisking everythingfor the chance to hold on to the one thing he loves themost his family. *1969« less
Luis Hernandez | New York, New York, USA | 08/10/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before there was Elian Gonzalez, there was "Popi". In a amazing and convincing performance, Alan Arkin plays Abraham Rodriguez, a Puerto Rican father of two small boys living in New York's Spanish Harlem. Working three jobs with only five hours of sleep a night, Abraham only wants the best for his kids as he struggles to provide them a roof over their heads and food on the table, especially after the death of his wife.However, the mean streets of the city and the poverty-stricken neighborhood he resides only causes him to worry about his children's welfare. After his children suffer a series of violent attacks, Abraham gets fed up with life in "El Barrio" and devises his plan in trying to give his children a better life he can't provide them.By doing research and educating the boys, Abraham sets his sons adrift in a rowboat off the coast of Miami, hoping that the Coast Guard picks them up as Cuban refugees. After they are rescued, his ultimate goal is that a wealthy family adopts them to give them an upbringing that would give the greater opportunities than they would have if they lived in the ghetto.However, the human heart is a powerful weapon, and after the boys long for their "Popi," Abraham starts to miss them and tries to see them by all means necessary, leading to a hilarious chase, and finally an emotional ending to a scheme-gone wrong.Arkin's performance as Abraham is convincing and amazing in every sense. His mastering of an English accent with hints of Spanish is incredible, seeing that Arkin is not Puerto Rican. Rita Moreno is excellent as Lupe, although her appearance in the film is rather limited. Newcomers Miguel Alejandro (Junior) and Ruben Figueroa (Luis) are excellent as Abraham's two sons. Alejandro's role reminded me a lot of Thomas Melly's role of Lil' Chino in another Puerto Rican movie filmed in New York City, "I Like It Like That". This film will pull many emotional strings, especially when Abraham parts with his children on a dark Floridian beach. There are many memorable lines and scenes throughout the scene, however my favorite one has to be Abraham's accidential appearance at a Cuban democracy rally at a New York hotel. At the rally, Abraham who is waitering, is brought to the stage by a few Cubans, who think he is one of the six men who participated in the Bay of Pigs invasion fiasco. After a roll call of the names of the veterans and their chanting "Que Vive Cuba Libre" (Long Live a Free Cuba!) Abraham is faced with a crowd anxious to hear him talk. His line which is probably the funniest pro-Puerto Rican chant to ever heard in a film is a must see for anyone who is Puerto Rican or an admirer of the island and its' people.The film which was rated "G" back in 1969 is far too intense for a child. With today's standards this film would have received a PG-13 rating due to violence, nudity, and powerful scenes of child discipline. If this film was released before the Elian Gonzalez conflict started, then many, especially many ignorant politicians in the United States might have understood the feelings a child has for their parents. Ignorance is bliss, and as we saw in this film and real life, not all the toys in the world can buy a child's love over that of their love for their parent(s)."Popi" is definately a contemporary classic in American cinema. The film gives an accurate portrait of life among Latinos living in New York's toughest neighborhoods. Director Arthur Hiller ("Love Story") did an excellent job of depicting life in the ghetto with sensitivity and grace. The film's beautiful score and charming theme song by Dominic Frontiere are captivating and memorable. I recommend this film to everyone, and especially to anyone wanting to understand the effects of the Puerto Rican diaspora in the United States."
Compelling, funny, poignant story that defines parental love
Luis Hernandez | 03/20/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Would someone puh-lease get the studio that released this film originally to re-release it ?! This is a well-written, superbly acted romantic comedy but not in the traditional sense of that phrase. The "romance" here is the love of a single father for his two sons, a love so deep that he attempts to improve their lot in life by concocting an outrageous scheme to pass his young sons off as refugees from Cuba who flee in a rubber dinghy that is found offshore near Miami. What follows is both a beautiful parody of what happens when the media make heroes of people and a poignant tale of family ties that cannot be broken after all is said and done. This is vintage Alan Arkin and one of the most neglected, underrated films ever released. For the sake of everyone who appreciates films like this, perhaps we should put the studio execs afloat in a rubber dinghy off Miami after coaching them about how to come across as lovable refugees who deserve only the best . . . ."
Wonderful independent film
missus jones | new york | 01/15/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Alan Arkin is stunning as a Spanish Harlem father of two pre-teenage boys - this film was made years before the Elian Gonzales event, and I'm sure you can find the plot elsewhere- but this is a warm, insightful and at times biting movie that becomes poignant as well. Rita Moreno is fine in a supporting role, but the film belongs to Arkin, one of the finest underrated American actors."
The most emotionally confusing movie ever
David Freydkin | Atlanta, GA | 11/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Popi is about a Puerto Rican widower named Abraham living in Manhatten with his two sons Junior and Luis. They live in an impoverished high-crime neighborhood. He works 60 hours a week doing blue collar jobs and gets 5 hours sleep per night. He wants to get his sons out of the neighborhood with a plan of faking their arrival on Miami Beach as escapen refugees from Cuba, hence getting nationwide attention and potential adoption to wealthier families. Once his sons get cruelly bullied by fellow neighborhood kids, Abraham finally decides to implement his plan. It works at first and all eyes in the US are on the two boys. But at the end, they virtually throw all possibilities of adoption and a better life away and reveal their identity to stay with their Popi, their father.
I love this movie and classify it as one of my all-time favorites. It is the most emotionally confusing movie I have ever seen. It is both sad, happy, and funny in one. The ending is one of the most funny, sad, and happy endings I have ever seen. In the movie, you sympathize with Abraham for living in impoverished conditions with his kids, working his fanny off, and just wanting a better life for them. Yet, at the end, the movie proves one of the most important messages in life: no money in the world can replace the love of family."
A beautiful film of unselfish sacrifice and love
Massimo Stanzione | UK | 07/13/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is very rare that a film touches a nerve or makes me emotional.POPI achieved both these things for me.I first saw the film about 10 years ago and had been searching for it ever since.Alan Arkins performance is simply outstanding,and credit should also be given to the rest of the cast.You would have to be totally brain dead or soulless not to appreciate the beauty of human emotion and unconditional love that the film projects."