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“Ruby,” “Celeste and Jesse,” and “People Like Us”

Do you ever find yourself getting so wrapped up in a movie that you start yelling at them? Whether it’s a horror movie and you’re screaming “Run idiot! He’s right behind you!” or a sappy romance and you’re pleading with the lead to “just kiss her already,” any movie that elicit a physical response is a good film.

I’ve recently seen three smaller movies that had this effect on me. They aren’t perfect films, but they’re interesting, and incredibly strong. They’re about telling captivating story and any film that gets me that invested in the characters and their lives I’m a fan of.

Ruby Sparks
This was my least favorite out of the three, but was still highly recommended if you like quirky romantic comedies like “(500) Days of Summer.”

Calvin (Paul Dano) is a famous boy-wonder writer who has had writer’s block for the past decade or so. He starts to write about his perfect manic pixie dream girl whose only flaw is she’s a figment of his imagination. Or was until one morning he wakes up to find his leading lady, Ruby (Zoe Kazan), cooking him breakfast.

It’s never explained how or why she came to being but she’s 100% real. Eventually the things Calvin found so charming (her independence and free-spirit) he worries might make her leave him so he decides to start editing a bit. ‘Cause that won’t make things 10x worse.

I really loved this idea and its success rests on the audience loving Ruby as much as Calvin does. Kazan, who also wrote the script, is charming and endearing. Dano, as lonely writer Calvin, you love and hate and feel sorry for all at once. They’re backed by a strong supporting cast including Elliott Gould, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Chris Messina, and Steve Coogan.

My problem with this film was the pacing. It felt a lot longer than its 100 minute runtime. While some scenes were laugh out loud funny, others lagged on … FOREVER. It all builds up to a tense and heart wrenching climax that has you hurting for everyone.

Ruby Sparks” is an unconventional rom-com and can’t be found on too many screens but it’s worth the search. It’s a witty script with heart and a cast that gives it their all. The more I reflect back on it, the more I like it!

Celeste and Jesse Forever
This one was a little hard to watch at times, simply because it felt so real and awkward you were embarrassed for these fictional people.

Celeste and Jesse (Rashida Jones and Andy Samberg) are best friends. They met, dated, got married, are getting divorced, and still, best friends. They’re friends think it’s weird but it works for them. At least it does till Jesse meets someone else.

Celeste’s life goes into a bit of a tailspin after Jesse moves out. Turns out she wasn’t quite okay with the divorce as she thought. Go figure.

Let me start by saying how in love with Rashida Jones I am. She is fabulous! She can do serious (“Social Network”), comedy (“I Love You, Man”), TV (“Park and Recreation”), movies, and even movies-within-movies (“Friends with Benefits”). She’s pretty, funny, and turns out she can write too! (She co-wrote the script with Will McCormack.)

Samberg was a perfect match for her here and was incredibly un-Andy Sambergy.

This dramady chronicles a couple’s break-up in a different way than most Hollywood fare. There isn’t a good guy and bad guy, just people living their lives doing the best they can. The audience really cares about Celeste and you cringe when her verbal diarrhea gets the best of her. You want her to happy, you want Jesse to be happy, you want everyone to be happy.

Though the handheld camera technique gets old fast the story is a little all over the place, but the actors and characters make up for it. A great soundtrack filled with lesser-known artists that are fantastic. Good soundtracks enhance a movie without taking over and that’s exactly what this one does.

Celeste and Jesse” is a sweet, heartbreaking story about love, loss, and letting go.

People Like Us
The trailer for this movie does not do it justice. The story, the characters, everything goes so much deeper and is so much more engrossing than the trailer suggests it would be.

When Jerry Harper, a famous music producer dies he entrusts his estranged son Sam (Chris Pine) to get $150,000 to someone named Josh Davis. After a little investigative work Same finds Josh and his mom Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) living across town. And, oh yeah, Frankie is Sam’s half-sister. Apparently has dad had a few secrets.

Sam befriends the single mom and her son in a strictly platonic way and the more he gets to know them the more he wants to give them the money, but the harder it is to tell her the truth.

I don’t know how many times I found myself wanting to scream at Sam, “Just tell her the truth asshole!” Everyone in this movie has flaws, and they’re all given a chance to grow and change. Sam is a huge douche a good 2/3 of the film, but I still like him. Frankie is a recovering addict who couldn’t pick out Josh’s dad from a lineup, but I still want her to succeed.

The story has ups and downs. There are tense fights and sincere apologies, with lots of tears and laughs. It’s like family.

People Like Us” is a powerful, character-driven film that got buried in a summer of blockbusters. If you get a chance and can not recommend this one enough.




  1. Pingback: 2012 in Review: The Good, Bad, and In Between « i'm a movie nerd - December 28, 2012

  2. Pingback: Sun Valley Film Festival | No Worries - March 30, 2013

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