This week, we are taking a look at two films about not-real people that become very, very real people, otherwise known as the Magic Realism Match Up! In one corner, Zoe Kazan's statement on the dangers of idealization in relationships, "Ruby Sparks." In another corner, Peter Hedges' off-beat family film "The Odd Life of Timothy Green."
See This: "Ruby Sparks"
When "Ruby Sparks" came out earlier this year, it had a lot to live up to. The first feature-length script from Zoe Kazan, granddaughter of Elia, starring herself and her real life boyfriend, Paul Dano. It contains the potentially shaky premise of an author who starts writing about his dream woman and bam, she comes to life! Was it just another movie about a manic pixie dreamgirl, or a comment on the overdone device? Would Kazan and Dano's chemistry read on screen? Would the fantastical story translate effectively? Luckily, the film manages to pull off everything it sets out to do, and proves Kazan to be an incredible talent. "Ruby Sparks" turns the notion of a MPDG on its head, exploring a man coming to grips with fiction vs reality, realizing that what we envision in our head as our perfect partner not only doesn't exist, but isn't what we *actually* want. It tackles the male ego in a way that yields excruciatingly honest results. Kazan's excellent screenplay paired with "Little Miss Sunshine" helmers Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris' sure-handed direction make for a strong anti-romantic comedy along the lines of "500 Days of Summer" that makes you root for the development of the individual characters, as opposed to the development of a couple, and learn a little something along the way about the nature of relationships. The film ended up certified fresh with 79% on Rotten Tomatoes and in its very limited release, rocked a solid $11,000 per screen average.
Not That: 'The Odd Life of Timothy Green"
In "The Odd Life of Timothy Green", instead of writing a novel about a dream person that brings a human being into existence, two parents (played by Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton) write their dream qualities in a child on a piece of paper. After burying it in the backyard, a child with all of those qualities shows up at their house covered in mud, claiming to be their son. Then he goes around the town fulfilling peoples dreams until he disappears, thanks to some magical leaves growing on his magical legs. The whole thing is a little weird and doesn't really say much of anything. While the film is lovely to look at and at times very sweet, the whole thing can't help but feel rather pointless, a shame when a talent like Peter Hedges is involved. Audiences and critics were on the fence as well, as the film ended up with only a 40% on Rotten Tomatos and opened in a wide release at #7. While the film is fortunately mostly harmless, why waste even two hours on something merely quaint?