2012 Written by Zoe Kazan
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris
Ruby Sparks is Manic Pixie Dream Girl meta as fuck. If you aren’t familiar with the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl”, then you probably don’t read a lot of reviews written by indie writers who pretend they’re the only people who watch bad cinema. Which is good, your life is measurably better! But as a crash course, these Manic Pixie Dream Girls are chicks from indie films who who up and are all perky and adorkable and inspiring, oddly attracted to the bland and uptight male protagonist for reasons unknown, and then leaves by the end of the film for greener pastures, leaving the bland male slightly less bland and uptight. Manic Pixie Dream Girls run wild with their weirdo skirts and dresses (always paired with bright tights of mismatched colors), wild hair and giant blue/green eyes. Ruby Sparks asks the questions “What if a writer was able to create a Manic Pixie Dream Girl wholesale? And she’d do whatever he told her to?”
Stories of creating the perfect woman have been around since the earliest days. Most of those tales have the not so nice undercurrent that the woman’s ability to decide her fate does not exist. Heck, even in many Manic Pixie Dream Girl films, the girl has to be the source of inspiration and change for the hero. That’s her role, and maybe when the whole thing is over she’ll get to be happy, but they’re specifically made not to be happy unless they are fluttering from place to place like a butterfly.
Zoe Kazan not only looks the MPDG part, she has one of the required names, and she even wrote the script. But Zoe Kazan isn’t a MPDG, she’s a real person, a human being with hopes and dreams and drives and freedom. The exact things Ruby strives for, Zoe Kazan becomes the enemy and destroys it from within, by pointing out the absurdity as the fantasy woman is both torn down and built into a real person. It seems natural that Ruby Sparks was written by a woman, such as the fact that it deals with real relationship issues while only barely touching all the sick weirdo perv stuff Calvin could be making Ruby do.
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) – A brillaint writer, you probably have heard of him and read his book. But ten years later, Calvin has yet to produce another novel and has a hard time writing anything. Until he dreams about a girl…
Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) – Just your average girl who appeared out of thin air when Calvin wrote about her. Makes me want to dig up my childhood stories about fried chicken invading the world to see if I can make it happen.
Scotty (A dog whose name I did not catch) – Scotty is a dog who needs to use the potty. Often. And he pees like a girl and is afraid of strangers. The dogs flaws make Calvin even more self-conscious.
2009 Directed by Mat King
Written by Rafael Jordan
In space no one can hear you run from stars. Or something. More likely, In space no one can hear you “borrow” from franchises.
Giant bugs in space…holy Starship Troopers, Batman! The special effects guys obviously love Battlestar Galactica, every shot of ships in space is done with the hand held camera zooms that were popularized on the cult remake series. The plot borrows heavily from Firefly and Starship Troopers, and characters are named after characters from Aliens. I give the movie props for trying to be more than just your average creature feature, but it also fails on a few other aspects. This mixed message actually hurts the film more than it should, which is unfortunate and a little unfair. I will always prefer a movie that tries and fails to be something better than a film that doesn’t even bother.
This film used to be known as Termination Shock. People saw it on the SciFi Channel news listings, knew it starred Connor Trinneer and James Kyson Lee, and nothing else. They went crazy trying to find out information. Then suddenly this mysterious film Star Runners was listed on the schedule. No one knew what it was. Finally, people figured out the movies were the same, and there were giant bugs! And then…it aired. Life went back to normal. That is the story of Star Runners.
Tycho ‘Ty’ Johns (Connor Trinneer) – Tycho Johns is a pilot who likes to smuggle and doesn’t like to get caught. But he does and is forced by Bishop to pick up some cargo, which turns out to be more trouble than he thought. And then giant bugs came… Connor Trinneer is best known for playing Trip Tucker on Star Trek: Enterprise and for having a rabid fanbase that was so desperate for information about this film before it aired on SciFi Channel they were asking me questions. Me!
Lei Chen (James Kyson Lee) – Lei Chen is Tycho’s sidekick and copilot in the future. It is nice to see more scifi media acknowledge that there will be a bunch of Asian people running around in space in the future because there are just so many Asian people. James Kyson Lee is famous from playing Ando in Heroes and he was also in a McDonald’s commercial!
Asta (Toni Trucks) – Our naked, mute, magical, amnesiac mystery girl! Poor girl finally gets her memory back, only to find out she was named after Nick and Nora Charles’s dog.
Jenessa (Aja Evans) – A crash survivor with a secret. Only her hairdresser knows for sure. Yes, that ad campaign is older than me, but I know about it thanks to Mad Magazine.
Bishop (Michael Culkin) – Bishop is an evil military dude in charge of blowing up stuff and taking possession of Asta. Thus, he is constantly chasing after Tycho, who he sent to get Asta. Besides Bishop, there is also a Hudson and a Hicks running around. How many Culkin kids are there?
Rebel Leader (???) – I don’t think he gets a name on screen, so I don’t know which actor played him or even his character name. He leads the local Rebellion against the UP, who are evil because the plot demands them to be.
Bugs (CGI) – Besides the normal bugs, there are bigger bugs and even huge bugs. You might ask how this desert planet supports a giant bug ecosystem, to which I would answer “Shut the hell up!”