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.



Stan Diego Comic-Con

Stan Against Evil returns November 1st.

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Photo Credit: Erin Resnick, GIFs via Giphy

Another Comic-Con International is in the can, and multiple nerdgasms were had by all – not least of which were about the Stan Against Evil roundtable discussion. Dana, Janet and John dropped a whole lotta information on what’s to come in Season 2 and what it’s like to get covered in buckets of demon goo. Here are the highlights.

Premiere Date!

Season 2 hits the air November 1 and picks up right where things left off. Consider this your chance to seamlessly continue your Halloween binge.

Character Deets!

Most people know that Evie was written especially for Janet, but did you know that Stan is based on Dana Gould’s dad? It’s true. But that’s where the homage ends, because McGinley was taken off the leash to really build a unique character.

Happy Accidents!

Improv is apparently everything, because according to Gould the funniest material happens on the fly. We bet the writers are totally cool with it.

Exposed Roots!

If Stan fans are also into Twin Peaks and Doctor Who, that’s no accident. Both of those cult classic genre benders were front of mind when Stan was being developed.

Trailer Treasure!

Yep. A new trailer dropped. Feast your eyes.

Catch up on Stan Against Evil’s first season on the IFC app before it returns November 1st on IFC.


Grow TFU

Adulting Like You Mean It

Commuters makes its debut on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Jared Warner, Nick Ciavarella, and Tim Dean were once a part of Murderfist, a group of comedy writers, actors, producers, parents, and reluctant adults. Together with InstaMiniSeries’s Nikki Borges, they’re making their IFC Comedy Crib debut with the refreshingly-honest and joyfully-hilarious Commuters. The webseries follows thirtysomethings Harris and Olivia as they brave the waters of true adulthood, and it’s right on point.

Jared, Nick, Nikki and Tim were kind enough to answer a few questions about Commuters for us. Here’s a snippet of that conversation…


IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Nick: Two 30-somethings leave the Brooklyn life behind, and move to the New Jersey suburbs in a forced attempt to “grow up.” But they soon find out they’ve got a long way to go to get to where they want to be.

IFC: How would you describe Commuters to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jared: It’s a show about how f*cking stupid people who think they are smart can be.

IFC: What’s your origin story? When did you all meet and how long have you been working together?

Jared: Nick, Tim, and I were all in the sketch group Murderfist since, what, like 2004? God. Anyway, Tim and Nick left the group to pursue other frivolous things, like children and careers, but we all enjoyed writing together and kept at it. We were always more interested in storytelling than sketch comedy lends itself to, which led to our webseries Jared Posts A Personal. That was a show about being in your 20s and embracing the chaos of being young in the city. Commuters is the counterpoint, i guess. Our director Adam worked at Borders (~THE PAST!!~) with Tim, came out to a Murderfist show once, and we’ve kept him imprisoned ever since.

IFC: What was the genesis of Commuters?

Tim: Jared had an idea for a series about the more realistic, less romantic aspects of being in a serious relationship.  I moved out of the city to the suburbs and Nick got engaged out in LA.   We sort of combined all of those facets and Commuters was the end result.

IFC: How would Harris describe Olivia?

Jared: Olivia is the smartest, coolest, hottest person in the world, and Harris can’t believe he gets to be with her, even though she does overreact to everything and has no chill. Like seriously, ease up. It doesn’t always have to be ‘a thing.’

IFC: How would Olivia describe Harris?

Nikki:  Harris is smart, confident with a dry sense of humor but he’s also kind of a major chicken shit…. Kind of like if Han Solo and Barney Rubble had a baby.

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

Nikki:  I think this is the most accurate portrayal of what a modern relationship looks like. Expectations for what your life is ‘supposed to look like’ are confusing and often a let down but when you’re married to your best friend, it’s going to be ok because you will always find a way to make each other laugh.

IFC: Is the exciting life of NYC twentysomethings a sweet dream from which we all must awake, or is it a nightmare that we don’t realize is happening until it’s over?

Tim: Now that i’ve spent time living in the suburbs, helping to raise a two year old, y’all city folk have no fucking clue how great you’ve got it.

Nikki: I think of it similar to how I think about college. There’s a time and age for it to be glorious but no one wants to hang out with that 7th year senior. Luckily, NYC is so multifaceted that you can still have an exciting life here but it doesn’t have to be just what the twentysomethings are doing (thank god).

Jared: New York City is a garbage fire.

See the whole season of Commuters right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.


C'mon Fellas

A Man Mansplains To Men

Why Baroness von Sketch Show is a must-see.

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Mansplaining is when a man takes it upon himself to explain something to a woman that she already knows. It happens a lot, but it’s not going to happen here. Ladies, go ahead and skip to the end of this post to watch a free episode of IFC’s latest addition, Baroness von Sketch Show.

However, if you’re a man, you might actually benefit from a good mansplanation. So take a knee, lean in, and absorb the following wisdom.

No Dicks

Baroness von Sketch Show is made entirely by women, therefore this show isn’t focused on men. Can you believe it? I know what you’re thinking: how will we know when to laugh if the jokes aren’t viewed through the dusty lens of the patriarchy? Where are the thinly veiled penis jokes? Am I a bad person? In order: you will, nowhere, and yes.

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Huge Balls

Did you know that there’s more to life than poop jokes, sex jokes, body part jokes? I mean, those things are all really good things, natch, and totally edgy. But Baroness von Sketch Show does something even edgier. It holds up a brutal funhouse mirror to our everyday life. This is a bulls**t world we made, fellas.


Oh Canada

After you watch the Canadian powerhouses of Baroness von Sketch Show and think to yourself “Dear god, this is so real” and “I’ve gotta talk about this,” do yourself a favor and think a-boot your options: Refrain from sharing your sage wisdom with any woman anywhere (believe us, she gets it). Instead, tell a fellow bro and get the mansplaining out of your system while also spreading the word about a great show.

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Dudes, that’s the deal.
Women, start reading again here:

Check out the preview episode of Baroness von Sketch Show and watch the series premiere August 2 on IFC.

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