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Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris on the lost years between “Little Miss Sunshine” and “Ruby Sparks”

Ruby Sparks

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By Jennifer Vineyard

“Ruby Sparks” is the first film from husband-and-wife director team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris since “Little Miss Sunshine” — so what gives? It’s not for lack of effort that the pair haven’t had another outing in the six years that followed their spectacular Oscar-winning debut, they told IFC, but getting a quality film off the ground is harder than they expected.

“We’ve been trying!” Faris said. “It’s not like we’ve been on an island vacation this whole time. Do we look like we’ve just been tanning and relaxing?”

“I wish!” Dayton laughed.

The directors have had a “steady stream” of offers and projects since “Sunshine,” Dayton said, but they were wary of the prospect of a second effort not coming out right. “The idea of coming out with a bad movie was so frightening for us,” he said. “We didn’t want a flop,” Faris said.

But even before “Sunshine,” the pair were notoriously picky, and turned down opportunities to direct “The Mod Squad” (which bombed) and “Bad Boys II” (which then went to Michael Bay). Post-“Sunshine,” they considered a number of better quality pictures, several of which would have reunited them with their number one Proust scholar, Steve Carell. These included the adaptation of Tom Perrotta’s “The Abstinence Teacher” (which at one point was to star Carell and Sandra Bullock; it’s now to be directed by Lisa Cholodenko); “Mail Order Groom” (which was to re-team Carell with Tina Fey post-“Date Night”; “Will” (which had Paul Rudd and Zach Galifianakis attached); and “Used Guys,” (which had Jim Carrey, Ben Stiller, Reese Witherspoon, and Danny McBride attached). All of these proved to be false starts, and the couple continued to make their living by directing commercials in the meantime.

“There were all these things that we really loved about each of those,” Faris said. “But there was always something that wasn’t quite finished or wasn’t coming together. It’s hard to get the right elements together, get the right cast, get them at the time you need them, get the script completely there, and get the right budget.”

“Used Guys,” which would feature a futuristic world ruled by women, is one that might still happen. “It’s a fun project and it could come back,” she said. “We spent a year developing it, and the visual language of that movie. It’s a great concept.” And just as readers found in the graphic novel series “Y: The Last Man,” a world ruled by women wasn’t “all Kumbaya,” Faris said. “This actually had something to say. It was going to be entertaining and deliver some interesting questions to think about as you leave the theater. It’s the biggest movie we ever considered doing.”

But like many of the above projects, the bigger the vehicle, the more “we weren’t going to be the one people driving the ship,” Faris said. “It’s tricky when you have a lot of powerful players involved.” As self-admitted control freaks, Faris and Dayton also had some trouble surrendering control in a big budget project. “We didn’t want it to go just purely broad,” Faris said.

“We haven’t fully given up on that one,” Dayton said. “But it’s a perfect example of why it took us so long” to find a film like ‘Ruby Sparks.'”

“It’s disheartening to us that the kind of character-driven stories we like to do are the hardest ones to get made,” Faris said. “We’re hoping that it won’t take six years for the next one.”

“Ruby Sparks” is now playing in limited release.

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

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….


IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.


IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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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.

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Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

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.

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