In short, Ruby Sparks is about a “tortured” writer named Calvin (Paul Dano) who has hit a brick wall when it comes to his latest work — until he starts writing a story about his ideal girlfriend Ruby Sparks (played by his real-life girlfriend, Zoe Kazan). As he continues to write, Ruby becomes a real-life person — much like the movie Weird Science or even Mannequin. A comparison in which was a hot topic of discussion during the Q&A I moderated with Zoe and the directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris. There was a heavy focus on Weird Science and I never thought that I would be discussing a movie where Anthony Michael Hall wears a bra on his head with a Yale graduate from a prestigious Hollywood family (Zoe’s parents are Nicholas Kazan and Robin Swicord and her grandfather is the late great Elia Kazan) and the lauded directors of Little Miss Sunshine. But my uber self-consciousness and fear of bringing the conversation to my lowbrow pop culture world was put at ease when Zoe gleefully said, “I LOVE LOWBROW!” and she gave me a hug after. We are now BFFs.
That aside, I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with Jonathan, Valerie and Zoe the next day in a more interview-appropriate setting. I had to share my interview time with another person, so when listening to the audio clips please take note in which interviewer is me. I’m the one who is giddy and dying to talk about Weird Science more.
First up, I chatted with the directing duo. We chatted extensively about the soundtrack — which is pretty damn awesome and reflects their experience in the music video world. We also chatted about their directing process, movie reboots and remakes and how you have to cry a lot before you smile.
During the interview with Zoe, she started off by talking about the character of Ruby Sparks and how she stepped into her shoes. She also talked about speaking faux-French and balancing her roles as screenwriter and actor (yup, she wrote the movie). Finally, and most importantly, she mentioned her love for Parks and Recreation.
Final thoughts on Ruby Sparks: Did I like it? Yes. Was I gushing over it in the very end? Not really. The movie made it very clear that Zoe Kazan is a talented writer and Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris have maintained their thoughtful direction of comedy and drama since Little Miss Sunshine. The movie takes on the theme of playing God and skews it for the hipster, Zooey Deschanel generation. And yes, I still think it is like Weird Science for the 21st century.
Ruby Sparks is currently playing in select theaters.