Funny Pages (2022) Ending Explained: Why does Wallace become violent?

Funny Pages Plot Summary

Funny Pages is a coming-of-age black comedy written and directed by Owen Kline. The film focuses on 17-year-old Robert, an aspiring cartoonist, who meets a man named Wallace at his workplace.

After discovering Wallace once worked for a legendary underground comic book company, Robert thinks the guy would be an ideal mentor.

Unfortunately, Wallace is more than a little unstable. Towards the end of the film, Wallace’s mental state deteriorates and this causes him to become quite violent.

Let’s take a closer look at this bitingly funny movie to discover the source of Wallace’s meltdown.

How does Robert meet Wallace?

Robert’s first mentor is his art teacher, Mr. Katano, and in the opening scenes of the film, we see them together discussing Robert’s work. When Mr. Katano asks Robert to make a nude drawing of him, the teenager surprisingly agrees, but then makes a quick exit when he realizes he needs to go to work.

Mr. Katano is worried that his previous request made Robert feel uncomfortable so he gets in his car and follows him so he can explain his actions. This has tragic consequences for the teacher, as he is hit and killed by another road user when he is distracted by his student.

Later, the grieving Robert attempts to retrieve some old comic books from his late teacher’s classroom as he wants them for their sentimental value. But as he does this by breaking into the building, his actions attract the attention of the police.

Robert’s accomplice, his best friend Miles, manages to escape but Robert is caught and arrested. He is later sent to court, where he is defended by Cheryl, a public defender, who reasons with the judge and explains the reasons behind Robert’s criminal behaviour.

Robert isn’t charged with the crime, much to his relief, and he returns home with his parents. During dinner, he and his parents argue over his future. He tells them he won’t be finishing his school year as he wants to pursue his art career instead. They are understandably disappointed and question his decision-making.

Seeking freedom and independence, he moves out of their home and into a squalid apartment with two older men, Steven and Barry. To pay the rent, he takes a job working as a notetaker for Cheryl, the woman who defended him in court.

On his first day on the job, Cheryl has a meeting with Wallace, who has come to her for legal counsel after his attempted assault on a local pharmacist.

While taking notes, Robert learns that Wallace used to work for Image Comics as an assistant colourist. As Robert is a fan of that company and has been inspired by their comic books, he does his best to get alongside this strange fellow so he can learn more about his craft.

How does Wallace become Robert’s mentor?

Following their initial encounter at the law office, Robert tries to talk to Wallace about his comic book career but the former cartoonist doesn’t seem interested in talking about his past. However, he is flattered that somebody recognizes his work and eventually becomes a little more hospitable towards this eager young man.

Robert agrees to give Wallace a lift home but on their journey, Wallace asks him to drive to the pharmacy where he previously committed the assault. Wallace asks Robert to antagonize the pharmacist, as he wants evidence that the man isn’t a nice person. He thinks this will help his legal case but his request backfires in spectacular fashion when Robert throws a rubber horse at the unfortunate chemist.

Desperate for Wallace’s guidance, Robert offers to pay him for drawing lessons. Wallace agrees but it’s not long before Robert regrets his decision to pursue this volatile man as his mentor.

What causes Wallace’s meltdown?

After catching Barry and Steven masturbating together, Robert moves back to his family home during the Christmas period. He also invites Wallace to come over for dinner, much to his parent’s surprise and displeasure.

The dinner is uncomfortable for everybody, especially Wallace, who locks himself in a bathroom and breaks a window to “get some air” when his mental health problems get the better of him.

Robert calms Wallace down and takes him back to his room. Shortly after, Miles joins them and shows Wallace the comic books he has created. The former cartoonist is less than impressed, however, mainly because Mile’s comic strips are derivative of other, better works.

Wallace attempts to give Robert some guidance about his artwork but when the teenager draws over something Wallace has created, the cartoonist becomes enraged.

Wallace’s anger is also fuelled when he looks at the comics Robert has drawn and notices the teen has drawn unflattering pictures of him.

In a fit of rage, Wallace shouts at the two teens and tries to grab Miles’s comic from his hand. In the scuffle, Miles is accidentally stabbed in the head with what looks like a pen, and this causes Wallace to freak out further. He flees the house and steals Robert’s car but is forced to leave the scene on foot when he crashes the car into the garage.

Robert gives chase and eventually catches up with Wallace who promptly beats him up and tells him to leave him alone. Following this attack, Robert stumbles to the comic book store where he sits at the counter to ponder on what just happened. The movie ends at this point but like Robert, we are left with this question: Why did Wallace act so violently?

Why did Wallace become violent?

We already know Wallace was prone to violent tendencies due to his altercation with the pharmacist.

While we don’t know the facts, it might be that the pharmacist triggered Wallace in some way, which then caused the cartoonist to attack him.

At the end of the film, Robert inadvertently triggers Wallace’s violent side. He does this by hurting Wallace’s artistic pride (by drawing over his artwork) and by hurting Wallace’s personal pride (by parodying his life in a comic book).

Wallace likely felt let down by the boy who he thought he could trust. The kid’s actions caused him to snap, which is why he then injured poor Miles and beat up Robert outside.

We don’t know much about Wallace’s past but if his work and life were ever ridiculed by others, this would explain the deep-rooted hurt in him that caused him to lash out at the two teens.


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