Tag Archives: Lisa’s Story

Asinine Aphorisms

Link to Today’s Strip.

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.

Marvins room poster.jpg
Unfortunately the movie is not about a three headed multi gendered monster wearing a black sweater.

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.

And sometimes, the people you know the least…

are the ones you need the most…

and the places we’ve left behind…

are the places we’ve always belonged….

Marvin’s Room

Barf.

33 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

When Arcs Become a Circle.

Link to Today’s Strip.

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.

May 17, 2020

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.

It’s all so tedious.

58 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Stump Speech

Link to Today’s Strip.

Yesterday I did something relatively unorthodox in these parts: I found something to praise Tom Batiuk for. Of course, the overly-long post ended with me screaming at Batiuk in all caps, but that is part of the reason I did it. I never want to get to the point in my beady-eyed nitpicking where everything is a bug to me. Because when I force myself to admit what is good, what is acceptable, and what is innocuous, then when I am confronted with the unbearably bad I can nail it to the wall with confidence.

Today is really really bad guys. Just so bad. This is worst-case-scenario Les Moore at his most insufferable. Self-pitying, sarcastic, complaining, self-absorbed, quipping without being clever. The strip is worse than pointless. It’s not funny. It does nothing to further any ongoing plot, or even advance the conversation in a meaningful way. And the only way it develops character is to further metastasize the tumorous-asshole side of Les’ personality.

And it’s a shame. Because the art today is kind of interesting. One, Les is in pain in panel 2. Which is always nice to see.

And two, he’s putting a pumpkin on a stump.

I can only assume that it’s the stump of the large maple tree in their front yard that was cut down back in 2015.

And before we have our normal reaction, ‘Ah, a relic of Dead St. Lisa, of course it is fetishized,’ the tree was also a favorite of Cayla’s, who wanted to be married under its branches, and felt like the tree was ‘part of the family.’ Plus, Summer grew up eating the fallen leaves from under that tree.

I understand grief at the loss of a tree. Emerald ash borer beetles came through my state a couple years ago and took out seven massive beautiful ash trees on my parents’ farm. It makes me sad in a very Batiukian way, wandering across the acres of yard at home, and so many sentinels of my childhood are missing. Nothing left but weed filled dimples where oceans of shade once marked out the borders of fantasy continents.

Les and Cayla left the stump of the tree they were married under. They’ve left it for years. They decorate it in the trappings of fall it can no longer produce. Because they’d rather have the reminder of the tree for a while longer, than a pristine yard. And all of this is told visually. It develops their characters much better than the awful dialogue on display today. It rewards long time readers. It gives the strip a continuity of place. And there’s that word again, continuity.

When Batiuk chose to have his strip move forward in time, he subjected his strip to the harsh and beautiful realities of continuity. In the measured compliments I’ve given the strip the last couple days, I hope I’ve pointed out how continuity can lead to deeper and more meaningful storytelling. But Batiuk wants all the blessings of continuity, without paying the price of its restrictions. He’s not shy about how little he cares. In fact he revels thumbing his nose at it, like an edgy atheist in Sunday School. And that is why his storytelling so often fails, because we don’t trust it any more.

But still. I would miss that tree too. It was a good tree. After all, it once trapped Les high in its branches, to the joy of all the neighborhood children.

And the very first thing it did upon being introduced to Les Moore was smack him right in his dumb smug head.

Our Leafy Hero.

49 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Under the Micro Scope

Link to Today’s Strip.

I think we all kind of guessed that this movie must have the budget of a community college staging of CATS, when they chose to film a park bench in winter on a soundstage rather than on location. I’ve seen better production values in classic Bonanza episodes.

At least they had the decency to put up a matte painting!

I don’t know how well weepy cancer movies are generally received, because I try to avoid them. If I wanted to hear sad adults having heartfelt conversations about personal tragedy I would follow strangers around the local Wal-Mart. The last one I remember being big was ‘The Fault in our Stars.’ That made $300 million on a 8-12 million dollar budget.

But is that a normal expectation for terminal illness sadporn? How did cancer movies do in the age of covid?

I did a little digging through the interwebs, just to see if making a movie about dying of cancer in current era is a good idea or not.

Ordinary Love. Filming began in 2018. Liam Neeson is afraid his wife will be taken by breast cancer. They’re sad their daughter died years ago. His gay friend’s husband gets taken instead. His wife recovers, and they go on a nice walk. It was released in the UK in December of 2019, and the US in February of 2020. Rotten Tomatoes rates it at 93%. The thing bombed like crazy though. US Box office was $774,877. Global seems to have ended at around $5 million. The only website I could find that listed a budget had it at $50 million. It is now streaming on Hulu, where random trolls complain that Liam Neeson doesn’t spend enough time threatening cancer over the phone.

I Still Believe. Filming began in 2019. Based on a book. Based on a true story. Christian musician, Jeremy Camp, is engaged to his college sweetheart who is battling cancer. They think she gets better. They get married. Then she gets worse. He has a brief crisis of faith. She dies. He finds a note from encouraging him not to lose his faith. It was released in March 2020. As is normal for movies made by evangelical Christians for evangelical Christians, critics were split on it, and it has a 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. It made $16 million on a $12 million dollar budget. It is now streaming on Fubo TV, and my little sister cried so much after watching we wondered if she needed rehydration therapy.

Clouds. Filming began in 2019. Based on a book. Based on a true story. High School student and aspiring musician, Zach Sobiech, writes music about dying of cancer and becomes a viral YouTube star. Dies of cancer. Was originally scheduled for a theatrical release through Warner Bros, but Disney bought the rights to release on their streaming service. Released in October 2020. Budget was between $10-12 million. I couldn’t find how much Disney bought it for. It was received decently with a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes.

Life in a Year. Filming began in 2017. Will Smith’s son falls in love with pixie dream girl dying of cancer. She helps him on his journey to become a rapper. He marries her. She dies of cancer. Sony Pictures Releasing it showed it in 54 theatres in November of 2020. Box office was $43,862, and not enough critics reviewed it for a Rotten Tomatoes score. It is now streaming on Amazon Prime, where random people who love trash seem to like it. Couldn’t find a budget for it.

All My Life. Filming began in 2019. Based on a true story. Aspiring chef Solomon Chau is engaged to his girlfriend Jenn Carter. Then he gets liver cancer. They try to decide whether to postpone the wedding. Instead their friends encourage them to move the wedding up. They get married. He dies. It was released to theatres in December of 2020, and released to VOD a month later. Critics were split, with a 56% on Rotten Tomatoes. At the box office it grossed $2 million on a $25 million dollar budget. It is currently streaming to HBO Max.

Our Friend. Filming began in 2019. Based on an essay. Based on a true story. Mother and wife, Nicole Teague, is dying of cancer. Close family friend, Dane, moves in to help take care her, putting his life on hold for more than a year. His girlfriend doesn’t understand and breaks up with him. Cancer wife dies. Husband Matthew Teague writes essay thanking Dane. It was released into the theatres in January 2021. Had a positive critical reception, 85% on Rotten Tomatoes, but bombed big time. Not even $700,000 on a $10 million dollar budget. It is now streaming on Amazon Prime, where random people who love trash seem to love it.

So yeah, with the numbers we have, cancer movies look like a money sink. But that’s the thing, we have no ability to access the numbers that really matter. The streaming numbers. How much are they making on VOD? How much are they making on distribution rights? The theatre releases for many of these were perfunctory. Did they turn a profit for the studio in the long term? We don’t know. All of that is information hidden in the cloud.

Which terrifies me. Because it means that Lisa’s Story could still be a big success. It could still win awards. We might not be done with this yet. And I bet you dollars to donuts that commenter Jeff M. was right yesterday, and Les is going to start getting letters and emails from all the women whose lives he saved by profiting off of his wife’s death.

44 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

How the Mighty Have Fall In.

Link to Today’s Strip.

Comic Book Harriet here! Ready to aim aim high and kick it off, hopefully without slipping and breaking a leg. I wanna thank our resident Spaceman Spiff for caring for us all over the last couple painful weeks. He brought us comforting sarcasm, and a barrel full of witty insights to dull the ache of Batiuk’s broken humor.

Today we get a real treat. The Passion of the Dead St Lisa movie bombed. So all of our comments about Funky Winkerbean gradually morphing into a Judge Parker, where characters are gifted success without merit, must have struck a nerve. Or Batiuk just finally remembered who he was, and is back to his old yanking-the-football ways.

But today is just PACKED with non sequiturs.

The only thing that confused me at first, but that I could make sense of after thinking about it, is that the release date of Lisa’s Story got pushed back. The movie just wrapped a few months ago, so it didn’t have any time to sit on the shelf mostly finished ala No Time to Die or Wonder Woman 1984. But then I remembered that movies get release dates well before they are finished, or have even started filming. And the great LA Firedemic of the vaguely defined ‘last year’ apparently shut down movie production long enough for Marianne Winters to be treated for early stage breast cancer. So yeah, the release date would have been pushed back significantly.

And it is an accurate and believable rendering of what did happen to a bunch of movies in the last couple years. There’s a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to the movies, cancelled, delayed, suspended, and/or dumped to streaming because of the pandemic. I’m actually surprised Batty didn’t decide to go topical-to-the-max and have it released directly to PicFlicks or Hula or whatever the Funkyverse equivalent of a streaming service would be. But apparently it was released in theatres.

And that is what is confusing me. There is no way Les and CauCayla would be learning about the movie bombing from an EMAIL from MASONEE. They went to a wrap party, but didn’t go to the premiere? They didn’t bother to check Box Office Mojo, or Rotten Tomatoes to see how the movie was being received critically or financially?

Les knows what it’s like to drop an anvil in a lake?

It that a popular idiom? I didn’t really know. So I went to grandpa Google and did a phrase search.

It really isn’t that common. Only four pages of results. I found it used a couple times in news articles because Judge Napolitano said it about Russiagate. A really sad blog about a sick kid. A few links to some fanfictions on wattpad…

And then things got weird.

What does this mean? What does any of this mean? Is it poorly translated from a language with ideogrammic elements? Is it some kind of secret code? Some kind of communication between hidden agents among us? It Funky Winkerbean PART of whatever this is? When Tom Batiuk ended today’s strip with “an anvil in a lake,” was he sending a message, recognized only by the few, that now, at last, was the time?

If you’re interested to see what dropping an anvil in a lake looks like, may I suggest this video. Where two Finnish people speaking nearly unintelligible English drop a red hot anvil into a lake and film it, just because, why not? Why not do that? Why not watch that? It makes a lot more sense than Funky Winkerbean most days.

67 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Say Good Riddance To Hollywood

Link To Today’s Strip

Now I don’t want to jinx us or anything, but it appears that the Big Cancer Movie mega-arc is finally, mercifully over. If you had “Marianne gets breast cancer” in the “how will this arc end?” pool, please stop by the home office in Secaucus to claim your prize (a World’s Greatest Band Director key ring) on any even-numbered Tuesday between 11AM and 11:10 AM. Print out a copy of your comment and please bring four forms of ID.

Suddenly Les, who used to despise Hollywood with every fiber of his being, is suddenly wistful over seeing the famous “Hollywood” sign that Marianne nearly jumped from, possibly because yet another mundane and anti-climactic part of his stupid life is now behind him or possibly because he’s pondering how he’d feel right now if Marianne HAD jumped, the cancer movie had never been made and Marianne didn’t so thoroughly embody the role of Lisa. Either way, who gives a shit?

Coming tomorrow: Les’ plane is shot down over Lake Oahe by an errant Air National Guard Sidewinder missile. It spins in. There are no survivors.

57 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Thou Shalt Not Make Unto Thee Any Smug Bearded Image

Link To The Strip

“Galoot”??? Les Moore is not a “galoot”. Bull was a galoot, Buck was a galoot, even Funky could be a galoot. But Les is a somewhat effete bearded dick with ears and there’s nothing even remotely galootish about him. And Cayla is like what, forty-five or so? Why would she be using slang that fell out of fashion thirty years before she was born? Sigh.

So Les, courtesy of his great artistic gifts and his wife’s untimely death, saved a life and not just any life, mind you, but a FAMOUS PERSON’S life, which is worth like five or six regular lives, at least. This is so mawkish it’s hard to believe an adult wrote it, and it’s so self-reverential it could have only sprung from the pen of one man. Then, on top of everything else, he actually has Les’ current, still-living wife grant him permission to hug other women, as long as Lisa is somehow involved, which is just too distressing and too disturbing for words. Les isn’t merely the most detestable character in the entire history of fiction, he’s a deeply twisted psychological disaster area too, trapped as he is in a bizarre relationship amalgam with Lisa, Calya and the stupid book of his.

It’s all too much, which is what we all say after a few days of Dick Facey’s irritating shenanigans. As far as “Lisa’s Story” stories go, this one was a real corker all right. Women getting breast cancer, women starring in movies about women getting breast cancer, women who secretly lusted after Les in high school, women thanking Les Moore for saving their lives, other women looking on approvingly, this one really had it all. It’s a wild wish-fulfillment fantasy and an obnoxious victory lap all in one.

49 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Please Re-Leese Me

Link To The Next One

Marianne Winters, the sexy young Hollywood starlet with the small-town morals and a heart of gold, was stricken with breast cancer. But, because she just happened to be starring in a movie about a young woman (with small-town morals and a heart of gold) who was stricken with breast cancer, she understood the importance of early detection and successfully detected the breast cancer she’d been stricken with. What luck!

And, even more fortunately for Marianne, hundreds of thousands of people got sick and died from a horrible virus that pretty much shut the entire country, including Hollywood, down. And even MORE fortunately, a gigantic wildfire roared through the Hollywood area, leaving untold destruction and billions of dollars worth of damage in its wake, thus enabling Marianne to set aside the time to seek the very best medical attention for herself.

So it all really worked out well for her and, even more importantly, it all worked out for the deeply-conflicted Delicate Genius too. Because you see, Les was very deeply conflicted about sharing his innermost pain (that he painstakingly documented in a best-selling book then talked about non-stop for over a decade) with the world, at least until he discovered that his personal courage, fortitude and tremendous artistic gifts were responsible for literally saving Marianne’s life. So like with Marianne, the pandemic and the conflagration, the whole wife dying of cancer and sending him into a twenty-four-year-long cycle of depression and misery thing all worked out great for him in the end. Heartwarming, ain’t it?

BatYam could probably save all kinds of time if he just nailed Les and that f*cking book of his to a big cross, then had the various other characters pass by and genuflect before him, but there probably wouldn’t be as many opportunities for dumb puns and stupid wordplay that way. The fact that he spent years on this story only to have it end up here just boggles the mind. We all should have seen it coming, too, but once again Batty somehow managed to surprise and bore us all at the same time, which is quite a trick when you think about it.

57 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

Some Like It Lumpy

Link To Today’s Atrocity

Wow. Major Act II flashbacks, man. I didn’t think he’d go THERE with this story, but once again I vastly underestimated his shamelessness. He could have chosen to go with some nice breast cancer awareness platitudes and how “Lisa’s Story” was ultimately helping people and so forth. But, with his usual sledgehammer-like subtlety, he decided to go ahead and GIVE MARIANNE CANCER instead. So now she really is just like Lisa, except hotter and, you know, alive and everything.

Even after all these years and all the tedium, this is still one weird-ass f*cking comic strip, I’ll tell you what. This is just ghastly and the fact that BatYam doesn’t know this makes it even more twisted and strange. It doesn’t insult your intelligence, it shoots your intelligence in the back, rummages through its pockets and leaves it for dead. Ham-fisted, heavy-handed, this one is as tone-deaf and ridiculous as it gets. Once again BatYarn goes in a direction no one else would have even considered.

Has any comic strip ever used the word “lump” more than FW has? “Maybe For Better Or For Worse” did, but most of that strip’s tragedies weren’t cancer related, so I dunno. If it’s “Crankshaft” I definitely don’t want to know.

71 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

What’s Behind Door #5?

Link To Today’s One

What the f*ck is she talking about? Does she mean the movie itself, the book being translated into Spanish, the news that the movie won’t be shown anywhere, or what? For the time being I will assume she means how he “feels” about “Lisa’s Story” itself, because “Delicate Genius is deeply conflicted about sharing personal details of his life” is more or less the entire point of the “LS” arc, but given Batiuk’s uniquely non-linear “storytelling” style, who the hell really knows. She could be talking about the crab puffs or the ketamine she slipped into his drink or God only knows what.

And Cayla’s slow descent from “character” to “caricature” to “prop” continues unabated today, as BatNard couldn’t resist throwing in a touch of that patented “female = jealous” trope he enjoys so much. “GASP! She’s going into that room to talk to my HUSBAND…ALONE!!! I hope SEX isn’t involved!”. And while I’m braying on and on about shitty, poorly-developed female characters (again), there’s Marianne Winters, the beautiful twenty-something movie star with the small-town heart of gold, about to confide in her dear friend Les Moore, who didn’t even want her cast as Lisa in the first place. Luckily for her, she won him over with her pitch-perfect Lisa-isms thus immediately putting Les at ease to a point where he chose to allow himself to befriend her and not dismiss her as another cheap Hollywood phony like he initially assumed she was. Another believable and convincing female FW character and not at all indicative of far bigger and way weirder issues that are just too icky and disturbing to address at any length today.

45 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky