movie thoughts: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend (2013)

MkieBirbiglia_05

This is not really a movie. It’s also not really stand-up. It is a recording of Mike Birbiglia’s one-man play, My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend.

It’s not hilarious. But it’s not depressing. Though at times it is sad. It is serious comedy.

For 70 minutes, Mike Birbiglia takes you through a small portion of his life, telling you, in his amiable and witty way, about his love life, or lack there of, from middle school up until now. While describing a day at he carnival with the girl he had a crush on in his teens, the audience groans, knowing what is coming, Mike says in his soft voice, “I know – I’m in the future too.” That sums up the whole show – Birbiglia stands on stage, telling us a list of youthful mistakes, the romantic missteps of a young adult, and his fumbling as an adult.

You will find some overlap with material covered in this play and Birbiglia’s autobiographical movie “Sleepwalk with Me”. But where that was a motion picture with actors and edits, “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend” is meant to feel more raw, more exposed, since it is just Mike on stage, alone. And it works.

I sorta loved this play, the same reason you love sitting around with friends and after a few drinks you start to talk about traumatizing life events – you feel a bond knowing that we’ve all been there in some way. The pain of growing up, of learning to be yourself…yeah, it’s that kind of show.

movie thoughts: Ruby Sparks (2012)

ruby-sparks-poster  “Love is magic.”

That is one of the sweet taglines that Ruby Sparks draws you in with.  It prepares you for the premise, which is fantastical but something we’ve all wished for — that the character from the book/movie/tv show we love would magically appear in our home and be in love with us.

Calvin was a prodigy, dropping out of high school and publishing a best-selling novel.  Now he struggles to write anything beyond short stories.  But when his shrink tells him to write something about a person who could love his dog for what he is (a dog), he has a sudden burst of inspiration and he creates Ruby, his perfect woman.

Or so it seems.  While the tagline might seem sickeningly sweet, the movie itself is very honest when it comes to how the reality of love and relationships.  Even though he has literally written the girl of his dreams, as time goes on Ruby and Calvin find themselves having to face the reality (or unreality?) of it all.

I don’t want to say too much about this movie.  It does exactly what you expect it to do, but the entire cast of this film, especially Indie favorite Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (who not only play the title character but is the screenwriter), who pull you in and help you see past what is a very simple story that we have heard before, but still rings true.