Release date: August 3, 2012 (ltd. release NY/LA July 25, 2012)
Written by: Zoe Kazan
Directed by: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliot Gould, Chris Messina, Alia Shawkat, Aasif Mandvi, Toni Trucks, Deborah Ann Woll
Running Time: 104 minutes
The romantic comedy/fantasy Ruby Sparks takes a playful jab at writers who claim that their characters speak through them. They’re simply recording the dialogue they hear, say the powerless writers, swearing that they’re akin to psychic mediums, or channels, obeying these willful fictional hijackers who end up running the show. However, similar to Will Ferrell’s Harold Crick from 2006′s Stranger Than Fiction, this film’s character leaps out of the novelist’s mind, off the page and into life as a fully-formed corporeal being. But as Henry Higgins, Geppetto, Ms. Eiffel (Stranger Than Fiction) and those dudes from 1985′s Weird Science realize, once autonomous (the original Pygmalion story excepted), these characters invariably take matters into their own, newly three-dimensional hands.
When Paul Dano’s onetime wunderkind Calvin Weir-Fields is visited by the girl of his dreams, in turn inspiring him to write his next novel about her, he can’t believe his luck when she materializes in his kitchen. But even a dream girl is going to want to step outside the kitchen, heck, even the bedroom from time to time. No matter if the house is rent free, and located in the chic Hollywood Hills … because that’s women for you.
At first, Zoe Kazan’s Ruby Sparks is indeed perfection. For an intensely isolated writer, unable to conquer the blank page for a decade since his first novel was considered a modern classic in the vein of “The Catcher in the Rye,” Calvin finds himself suddenly, truly, sparked back to life. Out of sheer love for her, not wanting to break the spell, he locks up his nascent manuscript, seemingly for good. He can write something else … for now, for once, it’s his heart that will take priority over his work.
The film is chock-a-block with meta levels on and off screen, in front of and behind the camera. [For the full doddle review and rating, please click here]