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Why there’s no sex in “Ruby Sparks”

Ruby Sparks

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By Jennifer Vineyard

One of Ruby’s first lines in “Ruby Sparks” is, “I missed you in bed last night.” That statement shocks Calvin, not the least of which because Ruby was, up until that moment, a figment of his imagination. But it’s a statement that could also be made by the film’s audience, since despite being a romantic dramedy starring a real-life couple, “Ruby Sparks” is short on sex. Sure, Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan kiss, and they even walk around in some scenes with few clothes on, but there’s no actual sex scene for this pair. This is intentional, the filmmakers and lead actor told IFC.

“I have no problem kissing Zoe,” Dano said. “But I don’t think the film needed a sex scene.”

“We talked about it a lot,” said co-director Jonathan Dayton, “and ultimately, we felt like this film didn’t really require a lot of explicit sex. For the most part, it was better to leave that to the theater of the mind, than to show it.”

“One of the things we were impressed with Zoe’s script was how it covered a pretty large territory pretty quickly,” said co-director Valerie Faris. “It didn’t feel like we were missing anything [not to have a sex scene], because I love all the places it goes, so we never really lived too long in any one place.”

The closest the film comes to a nude scene is when a sleazy Steve Coogan convinces Kazan to strip down to her underwear to join him for a late-night swim, but as soon as she does, Dano interrupts the two. “Steve, we love and have loved,” Faris said. “He only came in for a couple of days, but he made that character so much more dimensional because of all he brings to it.”

Plus, Coogan’s recent turns as a philanderer in “Our Idiot Brother” and “The Trip” helped put the image to mind of what he would have done, if he only had a chance. “It’s a gift!” Dayton laughed. “Unfortunately, he just has that quality,” Faris said. “But he’s a super great guy, and he’s in pretty good shape, too. He was in his underwear in the pool and six in the morning, and I felt so bad, because he had to get right back on the plane right after that.”

In lieu of sex scenes, the film concentrates on the magical romance between Dano’s writer Calvin and his creation Ruby (Kazan’s character), who materializes in real life after he’s written her on the page. Their relationship, as it is, is tightly controlled by whatever Calvin types, including her every mood; if she starts caring more about her career, all he has to do is type, “Ruby misses Cal desperately,” and she comes running back.

“We wanted the magical aspects of it to have a romantic high, and be wonderful to watch,” Dano said. “But we wanted the emotions to be real enough so that you would be invested and it feels real, because Ruby is real, even if she came from who-knows-where.”

“Once we were there, it was just about Calvin and Ruby,” Dano continued. “I think Zoe choose what she thought was best for the characters, and I don’t know if she considered our relationship while writing it. I think we would have felt self-conscious if the film felt like our real life, you know? I wouldn’t have wanted our real relationship in the film, and she knows me well enough to know that I would be pissed off if that happened. But the story has a life of its own, and it ended up being a good thing that we could bring an intimacy and a chemistry to the characters for their own sake.”

Still, for fun’s sake, Faris and Dayton joked that they could revisit the sex scene idea for a viral video campaign, and finally “take advantage” of Kazan and Dano’s relationship. “If ever there were a time when we could have shot a scene, we had a real-life couple!” Dayton laughed.

“Maybe we can use it for some ads,” Faris suggested.

“The ‘Ruby Sparks’ sex tape,” Dayton said.

“Oops! This might just leak out,” Faris laughed. “Good idea.”

Will you be seeing “Ruby Sparks” this weekend? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.