I suppose it was inevitable… but I had a fleeting thought that we might escape this arc without anyone bringing up the Lisa tapes. Alas, today’s strip has happened. It was a silly thought, really.
Wait, all Les Cayla sent to Marianne was two videocassettes? (apparently) Didn’t Les ask Cayla to send DVDs of Lisa’s tapes? (yes) But didn’t Les also have all of his Lisa tapes on display on the very shelf he just placed Marianne’s Oscar on? (also, yes) But didn’t Crazy convert all of the Lisa tapes to “digital” (and DVD) years ago, negating the need to send any physical media at all? (again, yes) But didn’t the conversion process require Crazy to bake (and likely ruin) the tapes because of their fragility and deterioration? (it did) Beyond that, why is she only returning these tapes to Les now instead of through a delivery company or at the movie wrap party? (because TB has panels to fill)
I suppose the real question here is, did Lisa make a tape about what to do in the event that an actress won an Oscar for playing her in a major motion picture? That might explain why Marianne wound up giving her Oscar away… everyone obeys the Lisa tapes! Sic semper videocassetta!
In today’s strip Les, appropriately, puts all of his stolen Hollywood paraphernalia in same place.
Marianne doesn’t appear to understand the concepts of opacity and walls.
Cayla plans to monetize this display even though presently no one seems willing to visit the Moore house for free (and peoplearewilling tovisitDinkle!).
Why am I blandly narrating this strip in lieu of hard-hitting commentary and rapier wit? Because I know my limits. Why is Les blandly narrating his actions in the first panel? Because there is no limit to his disdain for even those that worship him.
But we’re not in reality (we’re 1/4″ away from it), so what we are left with is a false modesty competition between Marianne and Les that offers nothing we did not already know yesterday. It’s a good example of Les showing his true colors though… If Les really and truly felt guilty about taking the Oscar that Marianne is stupidly and inexplicably giving up, then he wouldn’t wait until she flew across 70% of the country to tell her. I’ll bet he also excuses himself to go to the restroom just before the check comes at a restaurant and then returns to sheepishly offer to pay the bill just as his dining companion is handing their credit card to the waiter. Cue Ben Schwartz saying the thing…
Today’s strip marks Summer’s first appearance since… oh wait, yeah, sorry, that’s (Marianne) Winters, not Summer.
Summer actually has appeared in this strip as recently as 7 weeks ago, which is not something you could often say since she graduated high school. Even so, it’s kind of remarkable that Les and Cayla have interacted more over the past few years with a now-Oscar-winning actress than they have with their own children, both of whom (still!) appear to go to Kent State… less than an hour away from where Westview is generally considered to be.
And by “remarkable” I mean 1/4 inch AU from reality. I think I would have found it more relatable and more entertaining had we focused instead on the adventure that must have been Marianne’s efforts to bring an Oscar stuffed in a small drawstring bag through a TSA checkpoint.
Here is today's strip
Is it worse than we all feared
Or simply as bad
If I was popcorn
I would be quite offended
By this portrayal
Les hated this film
Why would he even watch this
Was happy it failed
In this case, "writer"
Would not describe Les as he
Did not write the script
This deserves more scorn
I'm a skink, I can't rant, so
I'm counting on you
Rip this thing to shreds
Kill it with all of the fire
Or just acetone
In today’s strip, Marianne is coming off as not simply composed but rehearsed, belying the nerves and words she had just a few days ago. Or maybe Marianne is just that good of an actress and really is worthy of that Oscar… I have to admit, only a great actress could say that Mason and Lisa’s Story deserve Academy Award nominations without breaking out in riotous laughter.
Let’s look at some odds on who this Oscar-worthy “very special person” is:
Uh, points for brevity, I guess, though in this case it is most certainly not the soul of wit… or any other word positively associated with writing. In the absence of anticipation as to whether or not Marianne will win the little golden man statuette, we have the ridiculousness of professional actress Marianne (and no stranger to public speaking and media attention) not having any remarks prepared despite having an apparent one-in-three chance of winning. This is compounded by the ridiculousness of her asking advice on accepting an award from a guy whose work outside of Lisa’s Story and Starbuck Jones consisted of Dino Deer, My Dog Pookie, and being incredibly nervous about simply doing a table read (!!!) for the unfinished masterpiece that was Lust For Lisa.
Oh dear, sweet, innocent, frumpy Marianne, totally unconcerned with shallow Hollywood things like her appearance and how her career is going. One has to wonder how someone so hopelessly naive and frumpy stumbled into a film career in the first place. Fortunately for her, she has Mason Jarre to mentor her and explain how movies and showbiz works, so at least she’s in very capable male hands. After all, Mason has played Les Moore TWICE, thus his veracity and integrity is obviously beyond reproach.
That Marianne drawing in panel two is just awful. She looks like Rocky’s harried, weather beaten mother, a far cry from the sexy sex vixen who played the vivacious Jupiter Moon just a few short years ago. She might as well just move to Westview and take a job teaching drama at the high school or slinging pies at Montoni’s, as she’d fit right in. And it’d only really be confusing when Summer was in town, but that rarely happens anyhow.
NEWS FLASH: You’ve got to check out the official BatBlog, which has been updated with an absolutely epic “Lisa’s Story” retrospective victory lap of truly Batiukian proportions. It’s the REAL “Never-Ending Story”.
Les, that is a really, really, REALLY weird thing to say while staring lovingly into the chocolate brown sclera’s of your second wife’s eyes. What are you trying to say here? That you’ve realized you’re lucky your first wife died? Because in the end what you really wanted was both a supportive wife and a sob story? The knockout one-two punch that will win you gold in the victim Olympics in performative grieving.
I get the sentiment, it’s a nice sentiment. You’re trying to tell Cayla that you’re content in your life with her. That Hollywood fame wouldn’t have made you appreciably happier because you’re already happy. But, when talking about this to a second wife, as a widower, you should avoid words like, ‘lucky.’ ‘all along,’ and ‘in the end.’
By Cayla’s tired grimace, I can tell what she’s thinking. “I don’t know if he’s insulting me or snubbing Lisa, but at least he sounds happy she’s dead.”
Many of us this week have found ominous signs that the box office failure of Lisa’s Story might not be then end of this endless arc. That a box office bomb can still go on to be critically successful and win awards. And it would dovetail nicely with Batiuk’s sentiments on popular entertainment, for the true beauty of Lisa’s Story: The Movie, to only be admired by a few.
I fear we’re in for a Marvin’s Room deal. If TomBa is going to use anything as a template for Lisa’s Story’s success or failure, it’s not going to be one of the cancer movies of the last few years. It’s going to be from the glory days of weepy prestige drama. The 90’s.
I’d never heard of this film before my cancer movie research of earlier in the week. And after reading the synopsis, and watching the trailer, it is top on my list of movies to never see. But the plot is Batiukian to the max. A movie about sarcasm in the face of disease, death, and poorly portrayed mental illness, written by a man who was himself dying of AIDS.
For 20 years Bonnie (Diane Keaton) has been taking care of her bed-ridden father, Marvin (Hume Cronyn) following a stroke. When she is diagnosed with leukemia, she reaches out to the sister she hasn’t seen for 20 years, Lee, (Meryl Streep), asking if she and her two sons would be tested for a bone marrow transplant. Lee retrieves her older son, Hank (Leonardo DiCaprio), from the mental health facility where he’d been kept since trying to burn her house down, and takes her family to see her sister. Much heartfelt sarcasm ensues. Bonnie’s treatment appears to be failing, but Lee is now comfortable caring for their father.
The movie bombed in 1996, making $12 million on a $23 million dollar budget.
And it got Diane Keaton an Oscar nod for best actress, Meryl Streep a Golden Globe nom, also for best actress, and three SAG nominations to boot.
The box office numbers might be in. But awards season is right around the corner.
So after all of Les’ passive aggressive pouting yesterday, he’s actually happy the movie flopped. Peak Les. He’s happy at the failure of others, because it allows him to remain in his own comfort zone. Cassidy Kerr said the movie was going to change his life, and he worried if it was going to be changed for the worse or the better.
And ultimately he’s smugly satisfied to realize that his own life hasn’t changed at all. Millions of dollars of vainly wasted money; hours and hours of actors’ and crewpeoples’ lives; none of that is weighed against Les’ own desire to remain static.
Banana Jr. 6000 posted an awesome video in the comments of Tuesday’s post. It dissects what makes a character unlikable. I’m reposting it in case someone missed it, and I highly recommend it to anyone with writing aspirations.
The most damning criticism in the video, as it pertains to Les Moore, is the subject of repeated, fruitless, character arcs: where a portion of the story is dedicated to a character trying to overcome as struggle or flaw only to end up right back where they started from.
“The storytelling, in this case, puts our arc and character into the protagonist’s driver’s seat and makes a sort of promise that this is going somewhere. Instead, the wheel is turned all the way left and they’re going in circles. They’re left complaining about the same thing or acting in the same selfish way they have before. And it becomes harder for us to identify with a universal struggle that they’re going through, and instead we start to get frustrated with them personally.”
How many times have we seen Les pulled in circles? Like a dog lazily chasing its tail, half knowing it doesn’t want to catch it. Just killing time because it’s been chained to the same place for years, and it gives it a sense of a goal.
For my Funky/Cranky crossover continuity review a few days ago, I reread an obscene number of Crankshaft strips. And you know what? Crankshaft is so much better. I’m not saying it’s great, or even consistently good. The recent newspaper closing arc was Funky levels of unbearable. But the characters in that strip choose to do things. Cranky has decided he’s going to electrocute a tree using jumper cables and multiple cars, and he’s making it happen. Lillian decides she’s going to write a book, so she does. Then she writes ten more books and becomes famous in the same time it takes Les Moore to write a prequel about his dead wife in the strangest self-own I have ever seen.
While there are always exceptions: Crankshaft characters act, Funky Winkerbean characters react. In Funky Winkerbean there are a few ancillary characters, like Mason and Chester, who present the main characters with life changing propositions to react to. And in general the characters are happiest when they’re NOT moving. Everyone lives above Montoni’s, everyone works at the High School, or the restaurant. Darin, Pete, and Jess would rather take the nepotism hires close to home than capitalize on their Hollywood successes.
Les is happy the movie flopped. Inertia and entropy are the twin suns that warm his withered soul, and his only hope is to decay in place.