Ruby Sparks is a surprisingly charming film that goes above and beyond the typical comedy. For a story that incorporates several ridiculous fictitious elements, Ruby Sparks surpasses expectations with its memorable characters and unique plot line. Zoe Kazan’s screenplay and Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris’s direction gives a modern, quirky, and fresh take on letting your imagination run wild.
Ruby Sparks tells the story of a struggling young writer, Calvin (Dano), who was once considered a “genius” author for his first novel published 10 years ago. Unfortunately, he’s developed a bit of writer’s block.
Through the help of his therapist (Gould), Calvin finds the motivation to write once more. The subject of his new story is Ruby Sparks, the girl of his dreams (literally and figuratively) whom he thinks about nonstop.
One day, Calvin walks downstairs to find Ruby (Kazan) alive and under the impression that Calvin is her boyfriend, just like in his dreams. The young author makes it his mission to discover how such an event could’ve occurred and how to deal with his fictional work coming to life.
With such an unrealistic concept as a girl from a story appearing out of thin air, I was concerned that the characters would simply accept the unbelievable. Luckily, Calvin and his brother Harry (Chris Messina) deal with the situation in a skeptical fashion as any rational and sane person would have. At one point, the two sit in Harry’s car and discuss how ridiculous and impossible the situation is, which helps ground the story in realism.
Parallels of Love and Writing
Ruby Sparks reminds us, as readers, how invested we can become with a story and its characters. Before coming into existence, Calvin explains to his therapist the depth of his love for Ruby; he can’t wait to go to sleep and dream about her; he can’t wait to wake up and write about her. All of Calvin’s thoughts are completely consumed by this fictional entity. It’s a realistic depiction of how authors and readers feel about their books.
Most have become familiar with Dano through his work as the unhappy Dwayne in Little Miss Sunshine – the character who takes a vow of silence. This time around he was flawless as the humble, awkward with women, yet artistically creative Calvin. He’s is generally likable despite his lack of friends and irritating actions.
Dayton & Faris could’ve easily cast Michael Cera or Jesse Eisenberg as Calvin since both are also known for their quirky characters. However, Dano grounded the character in a realistic manner, which otherwise could’ve been overworked Cera and Eisenberg. Writer Kazan admitted that she wrote the part with Dano in mind, which is evident since he certainly shines in this role.
While several filmmakers have been known to place themselves in their films for a scene or two (Tarantino, Shyamalan), it’s not too common that we see the screenwriter in front of the camera. Zoe Kazan is credited as both the writer and one of its stars. It’s hard to tell if she wrote Ruby as a rendition of herself, but she certainly fits the role. Kazan did a great job portraying the character as the ideal off-beat, yet devoted girlfriend — a persona desired in today’s culture that idealizes awkward charm.
How exactly do you end a film such as Ruby Sparks? Would Ruby disappear just as quickly as she appeared? Would Calvin wake up to find he imagined the whole thing? Would Ruby discover how she came to being?
After we find out Calvin has the power to control Ruby’s thoughts and actions by what he types onto the page, the ending is handled in the same realistic manner that much of the film was handled. Without revealing too much, Calvin tests just how far he take push Ruby and the film ends in a satisfying closing to an adventurous story.
Towards the middle of the film, once Calvin has accepted Ruby’s physical existence, the story’s pace begins to slow. After the initial shock has worn off, Ruby and Calvin turn into a regular couple and the film becomes more of your everyday romantic comedy. Although the period is brief, it takes away from the rest of the story.
Overall 3.5 Stars out of 5
Ruby Sparks is truly an original film with an interesting concept, executed with precision. Although there’s little suspense, it will keep you on the edge of your seat. The film reminds you to dream big, do what you love and remember that nothing is impossible.
Buy it, Rent it, or Skip it?
You’ll definitely want to see this one. If for nothing else, it’s an original concept that will have you entertained the whole time. Ruby Sparks is not for everyone, as it’s not the most hilarious of comedies, but it is one that most people will find enjoyable. If you’re looking for something you’ve never seen before that will leave you smiling and inspired, then Ruby Sparks is for you.
‘Ruby Sparks’ Trailer
Interview with Dano and Kazan: