VIDEO: Dayton and Faris on "Ruby Sparks"

The husband-and-wife team, a self-styled "two-head monster," on keeping fantasy elements grounded in reality

Oscar®-nominated TFT alums Jonathan Dayton '80 and Valerie Faris '80 talk about "Ruby Sparks," their long-awaited follow-up to the beloved "Little Miss Sunshine." With Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Steve Coogan in the supporting cast, the film tells the story of a blocked writer (Paul Dano) who falls in love with one of his own characters (Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the screenplay) -- and sees her come to life in front of him.

"New York Times" writer Amanda Petrustch:

"While Calvin (Dano) scrambles to navigate Ruby’s presence off the page, Ms. Kazan’s script skewers her audience’s expectations of the character. In recent years the archetypal on-screen male fantasy has evolved, or at least expanded. A sopping Phoebe Cates sauntering poolside in a red bikini in "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982) now exists alongside Zooey Deschanel in a vintage sundress, racing through Ikea and making a goofy face in "(500) Days of Summer” (2009)." The second girl — a film trope that the critic Nathan Rabin has called the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, an ethereal presence with no flaws, only endearing quirks — is the one who swoops in to save the boy from himself. Eventually Ruby’s realness is Calvin’s undoing.

""I think I was writing in reaction to a lot of fictional female characters that have been on screen the last few years," Ms. Kazan said, "just feeling like there’s a diminutive ideal of a girl that’s just one shade away from being true."

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