If the couple at the heart of the delightful Ruby Sparks (2012, Fox, R, $30) seems to pass the chemistry test with flying colors that might be because, in real life, actors Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan have been dating for years.
In the movie, Dano stars as an author experiencing a horrendous bout of writer's block. After dreaming of his fantasy girlfriend (Kazan, who wrote the screenplay), he begins penning a novel about her. All is well until she materializes in his kitchen one morning.
The set-up might sound a smidge too precious, but Kazan – and filmmakers Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (Little Miss Sunshine) – have come up with a whimsical blend of Pygmalion and Harvey that manages to charm from beginning to end.
Coincidentally both Dano and Kazan share a connection to NEPA. Kazan is the granddaughter of iconic filmmaker Elia Kazan (On The Waterfront) and the step-granddaughter of Elia's last wife, Barbara Loden, who starred in – and directed – Wanda, a stinging 1971 drama filmed entirely in Scranton and Carbondale.
Zoe has been to Pennsylvania many times with Dano, whose father, retired attorney Paul Dano Sr., was born and raised in Scranton. Dano Sr. now lives in East Stroudsburg, and his son visits him several times a year.
Ruby Sparks might not be Paul Dano's best film – that distinction belongs to There Will Be Blood or Little Miss Sunshine – but it's certainly his most buoyant. In fact, it's practically guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
Amy Longsdorf writes about DVD and Blu-Ray releases with local connections.