Today, I saw the Tom Cruise movie, Valkyrie
, with my brother-in-law, who had worked with the director, Bryan Singer, before. He had heard from numerous friends that the reviewers were being unusually harsh to the picture thanks to Tom Cruise’s involvement in the picture. That proved to be true. The movie is pretty decent, primarily due to a stellar supporting cast of players in the movie.
One of the things which was interesting about the picture was a steady use of window shots, i.e. pictures looking through windows from the inside of buildings or looking at solitary individuals through windows from outside the building. These carried an air of secrecy, and in some cases, carried an air of the character’s impending doom.
It is with this eye that I looked at today’s reprint of For Better or For Worse
. Elly has set up her brother Phil to take her son ostensibly to visit his best friend, Lawrence; when in fact, she has really set up Phil to meet with Connie Poirier, Lawrence’s mom and single woman on the prowl for a man. To do this, Elly looks through the window, pulling the curtain to hide her appearance, so she can detect and track the progress of Phil and Michael and inform Connie. In Valkyrie
, just as the characters are trying to set up the assassination of Adolf Hitler, Connie and Elly are trying to set up the assassination of Phil’s status as a single man. Unlike the movie Valkyrie
, Connie and Elly are not above using children as their pawns, and there are no dismembered fingers or missing eyes involved, unless you count the fact that both Elly and Phil only seem to have 3 fingers and a thumb on their hands.
The other similarity to Valkyrie
is that I knew how the movie was going to end, because it was based on an historical event. In For Better or For Worse
, it is the same way. I know Connie’s attempt to subjugate Phil into marriage will end in failure, because that is the way it happened back in 1980. What the movie Valkyrie
would add then, is the visualization of historic events, an understanding of the motivation of the characters, and the inclusion of lesser-known facts which might surprise a viewer unfamiliar with them. Considering this aspect in For Better or For Worse,
we know from last Saturday’s new-run, this plot to send Phil to visit Connie is Elly’s idea. I have a pretty good idea why it is that Connie wants to meet Phil (single woman desperate for a man); but I still do not know why Elly wants to send Phil to meet Connie. That is a crucial ingredient.
, I had suspicions as to why the characters want to assassinate Hitler. The way the script is written, it is not the same motivation for every man. Some men fear the destruction of Europe, some men are anxious to have the power which Hitler has, and some men believe that what Hitler is doing is counter to the beliefs of their country. I got all those different motivations from Valkyrie
. Even with the new-runs, I do not know why Elly wants Phil to be with Connie. There is no consideration of the idea that Lawrence would become her nephew, or that Connie would become her sister-in-law, or that Phil might end up living next to them. As the strip is written, Elly has set this up for no other reason than Connie wants her to. As a result, the reader has little interest in whether or not Connie is successful. From a comedic standpoint, they might be looking forward to seeing Connie fluster about, and embarrass herself. From my standpoint, I look at the story in terms of “What is Lynn Johnston doing differently with it than last time?” So far, not anything of consequence.
Another similarity is the use of real-life persons. Phil is based on Lynn Johnston’s own brother; but Connie is a made-up character. Unlike a lot of stories which Lynn wrote which were taken directly from real life, there should not be a direct, real-life parallel between Phil and Connie’s potential romance, and Lynn’s brother’s romantic life. In Valkyrie
, this would be like writing in that Tom Cruise’s character had an aide, who worshipped what the Tom Cruise character was doing. Probably there was a real-life aide, but what the aide worshipped is unknown. Nevertheless, the writer for the movie chose to add that characteristic in order to flesh out the character. In the case of Lynn Johnston, she has a character of Phil representing her own real-life brother, but she has fleshed out the character by sticking him in a plotline involving a set-up date with an imaginary character. If in Valkyrie,
the real-life character did not worship Tom Cruise, that’s OK because he is no longer alive to protest it. However, in Lynn Johnston’s case, her brother was and is alive. So, how would he feel about having his sister write a made-up story about his love life? Probably a little odd. I know I would feel that way.
It may be too early to judge how this storyline will end up. After all, it is not complete, and Lynn may have new-runs to add which will address the questions I have raised. Will there be something more to this than Phil meeting Connie and nothing happening? We’ll see.