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Ruby Sparks Reviews

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Super Reviewer

October 26, 2013
A novelist's main character comes off the page and becomes his real-life dream girl.
In its epistemological themes and its depiction of malignant patriarchy, Ruby Sparks is profound and intellectually satisfying, and it's to the film's credit that it balances heavy philosophical issues with comic relief. The creation of a dream girl, a quirky and willing beauty, seems attractive on its face, but the power this task involves makes one question whether it is appropriate. And once God - the author Calvin in this case - is given too much power, what happens to the automaton, his creation. *Spoiler Alert* The theme is better expressed had it ended sooner, without the expectation of happiness.
Paul Dano is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors. His lanky mawkishness is balance by the clarity of his expression, and he has a talent for choosing only the most promising projects.
Overall, I really liked this film because it's both deep and enjoyable on the surface.

Super Reviewer

July 10, 2013
four stars
Cynthia S

Super Reviewer

December 9, 2012
A unique and endearing love story, with a refreshing plot twist. Cute, and a little twisted. One of those little-known, low-budget indie films, that turns out far better than I expected. Really nice. Really imaginative...

Super Reviewer

July 25, 2012
Ruby Sparks is one of the more unique films I have had the pleasure of watching this year. It's a really smart film and I loved finding out that it was written by Zoe Kazan. She is quite the talent. She and Paul were pure chemistry magic on screen. Their of screen romance melted well onto their onscreen romance. I love them together. Paul has been a favorite of mine for a long time and he does a great job in this movie. He never gets the praise he deserves in films though which is sad.
This film is one of the many reasons I love Independent films. They always bring fresh and unique scripts to the screen. I can't wait to see what else Kazan does in the future.
Now about the movie; It's a good look at how both men and women dream up the perfect person think they have found them and then get disappointed when they find a flaw. Once the flaw is found we try to change the person into what we want them to be. This is a perfect film to show that it never works. You have to love the person complete with flaws and all. We are who we are and we shouldn't have to feel the need to change one another and maybe if we just started accepting the flaws and imperfections within each other then maybe more relationships would last. Too many spend so much time trying to change their better halves instead of just enjoying the time and company of them. So let this film be a lesson to us all.
Luke B

Super Reviewer

February 3, 2013
At the end of the film, somebody mentions that the book within the film is "pretentious" and such a word could be used to describe this apparent deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dreamgirl, which in itself is a stupid term. At the films core is a genuinely interesting story about a man whose creation comes to life and will do whatever she is written to do. What he soon finds is that there is no "ideal" woman, and that you have to take the rough with the smooth. Unfortunately the film assumes too much about relationships and people to the point where it doesn't really have any form of conclusion. There are a number of funny, powerful, and moving moments, but the script often seems to be written from anger instead of a point of understanding. I think we were supposed to dislike Dano at times, but I never felt this. Kazan's Ruby was very unlikable no matter what mood or characteristics she was given and so it was hard to understand Dano's fascination with her. However, the film does handle all of its matters in a mature way, and often tries to give us different perspectives.

Super Reviewer

August 7, 2012
After far too long, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris finally deliver a follow-up to Little Miss Sunshine.

Paul Dano plays Calvin, a young novelist who peaked far too early, and is now struggling, but with his career and with his love life. Upon receiving a writing assignment from his therapist, he creates a woman named Ruby who inspires him. Things get nuts when his dream woman literally comes alive, completely unaware of her real origin.

This is a really quirky and imaginative set up for a movie, and I have to give Zoe Kazan a lot of credit as both the screenwriter as the actress playing Ruby. Her performance is strong, but her writing...not so much. It's good, for the most part, but ultimately rather uneven and kinda messy.

That's a good way to sum up the film overall. It's got a lot of potential, and it gets a lot of stuff right, but it's all over the map, and feels conflicted about what it's trying to say or do.

Like I said, it is a good premise, and they do play with it, but not as much as I figured they would. Dano and Kazan are good, but a lot of the notable supporting cast aren't given nearly enough to do, namely Coogan, Benning, Gould, and Banderas.

I did like this movie, but, like the film itself, I'm all over the place with how I feel about it. I'm more pleased than not, but ultimately feel it could have been somewhat better conceived, and definitely better executed.
Alice S

Super Reviewer

December 17, 2012
Calvin, a young one-hit-wonder novelist creates his perfect girlfriend on the page, and she comes to life, only to develop a mind of her own! Ruby Sparks is extremely lovable - both the movie and the girl. Zoe Kazan is quirky sexy as the titular dreamgirl and quirky talented for penning the fantastical screenplay.

Major spoilers *salute*

There are humorous moments - Paul Dano's physical comedy when Calvin discovers Ruby is real; there are dramatic moments - Ruby wanting more space in the relationship and Calvin fears losing her; there are darkly comedic moments - Calvin playing God and making Ruby Overly-Attached Girlfriend "I MISS YOU RIGHT NOW!!!"; and there are intense, disturbing moments - the climax of Calvin literally trapping Ruby in the room and making her dance like a puppet.
Mark W

Super Reviewer

December 12, 2012
After 6 years, husband-and-wife directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris deliver their long-awaited follow-up to the brilliant "Little Miss Sunshine". It would seem that the director's were in no rush to emulate their previous, Oscar winning, success; preferring instead to wait for the right script. It would also seem that that time has now come and it's, certainly, been worth the wait.
Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is struggling writer who once wrote a 'genius' novel when he was 19 years old. The trouble is, he's now struggling for material and suffers from writer's-block. On the advice of his therapist (Elliott Gould), he begins to write about a girl that has been appearing in his dreams: Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan). The next day, Ruby becomes a real person and they both strike up a beautiful and loving relationship. What Calvin then realises is, that if he can will her into existence by writing about her, then he can change her at any time and make her do what he wants by writing more.
Not many films built around romance have had the audacity to explore the very nature of love itself and the stipulations that seemingly come with it. It's a genre I'm not fond of but that's only because most are catered for the masses. This film dares to explore the complexities of a relationship and the stipulations that both sides make. It questions whether we can really love a person, wholeheartedly, without their indiscretions ever becoming irritating or intolerable. It also addresses the nature of dominance within a relationship and how that, in itself, is destructive.
Therein lies the beauty and honesty of this film; it's not afraid to pose these questions and it's also not afraid to explore the darker elements to it's premise or get it's hands dirty when it needs to. After a gentler, more romantic-comedy beginning, filled with wonderful touches of light and observational humour, the denouement takes a brave, impressive and twisted dramatic turn, that shows the darker side to the fantasy. Wisely, the film's fantasy premise is never explained. This may irk some viewers but really, the film wouldn't have gained anything by trying to break it down. Quite frankly, it just wouldn't have worked but that's testament to the filmmakers, the terrific ensemble of actors and most importantly Zoe Kazan's highly original screenplay as they all have you believing in them, even when you know you shouldn't. Once you've accepted the premise, you can sit back and enjoy the excellent performances all round; Dano, once again, displays his more than capable acting chops with a character that is often, and cleverly, likened to writer J.D. Salinger and wonderful comic-relief comes in the form of Bening and Banderas as new-age hippie parents. The biggest surprise is from the screenwriter and eponymous Zoe Kazan though; she brings a real warmth and creativity that manages just the right balance and allows her to flit in-between moods with ease. Without such an endearing and understanding performance, the film wouldn't have worked as well as it does.
With excellent performances all round, and a great mixture of humour and pathos this is one of 2012's genuinely surprising highlights. Like "Little Miss Sunshine" before it, this is a real treat.
Sam B

Super Reviewer

July 24, 2012
An attempt at creating something transcendent that just misses that mark, but still lands on its feet as one of the most touching and interesting movies of 2012. Ruby Sparks is a fantasy dramedy that manages to remain grounded and relatable despite its miraculous plot - a pretty impressive accomplishment for first-time screenwriter Zoe Kazan, who also shines on screen, alongside leading man Paul Dano (great as always). The supporting cast is a dream come true, including heavyweights Anette Bening, Antonio Benderas, and the charming-as-always Steve Coogan and Alia Shawkat. I'm a sucker for meta movies, especially if they're about writing, and so there was never really a doubt I was going to love Ruby Sparks. Yet somehow, I was still constantly surprised by its quality, and thats's worth a thousand words.
Adriel L

Super Reviewer

October 14, 2012
Fantastic. A hopeless romantic's dream. But also with it, something to teach us about relationships and its realities. Lesson well learned through a very heartfelt film.

Super Reviewer

November 3, 2012
An awkwardly written drama that tries to convince us there's no such thing as happiness.

The movie has gave itself three chances to redeem itself and each time it failed. The first was when Ruby starts to become her own person, wanting to "take a break" from Calvin, go to art classes, and sleep at her own place. Calvin doesn't like this so he breaks his one rule of not writing about her anymore.

The second time is when Calvin reveals to Ruby that he can make her do whatever. While he's crying on the inside at the creation he's made that no longer pleases him, Calvin types in front of Ruby so they can both see the things he's capable of making her do; a scene that goes from being dark to silly.

The last is during the final minutes of the film. Calvin realizes his mistake and sets Ruby free from his control. This would have been a predictable yet acceptable ending to a frustrating movie, but instead the are two leads are reunited under even stranger circumstances.

A movie is only as brilliant as the clues it leaves behind. Giving the audience more to feast on and digest even after the story has ended. As much as I hate it when people say "the dog steals the show" that may very well be true here because he's the only character that brings all the clues to us whether we see it or not. Calvin's timid dog, Scotty, is the bridge between fiction and non-fiction.

The movie starts off as a dream with a silhouette of a girl (later revealed as Ruby) walking with only one shoe on. Scotty brings a shoe to Calvin a day after this dream occurs. Calvin alludes to "The Catcher in the Rye" at the end of the film, a book that Scotty demolished a copy of earlier in the film. And the most notable one is how Scotty, both in a dream and in reality, introduces Dano's and Kazan's characters to each other.

If it wasn't for that dog I don't know if I would have been able to make it through 100 minutes of an emotionless Paul Dano acting like a selfish prick because he can't get his way.
Paulo G

Super Reviewer

August 5, 2012
Ruby Sparks benefits from a lot of things. Its offbeat humor and witty dialogues greatly compliment and magnify Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan's chemistry together, but what triumphs is their performance as the lovelorn couple, perfectly grasping the frailness of relationships as it opens the story to the depth of contentment and commitment with enough imaginative storytelling until the end.
Carlos M

Super Reviewer

October 3, 2012
What first seems to be a simple one-joke romantic comedy turns out to be so much more. This is in fact a deeply honest and sad story about the selfish (but real) need that some people have of controlling others to feel loved and make an ideal relationship work.

Super Reviewer

September 30, 2012
Taking what could have been a gimmick of a premise, Ruby Sparks follows it all the way down the rabbit hole and finds something beautiful, poignant and confronting. Full review later.
Nicki M

Super Reviewer

September 20, 2012
Nice film. It starts off a little slow, but the pay off for me was near the end where Calvin starts to realise the consequences of what he has done and everything goes to hell. I thought this was really well done and Zoe is lovely as Ruby. Not the most immediate film, but really worth seeing if you can stick with it. (Need I add my Disney- loving mother was literally asleep watching this one!).

Super Reviewer

September 25, 2012
'Ruby Sparks'. I was completely engrossed. A twisted, meta take on control by Kazan, and Dano just has something appealing about him!

My first thought, after the unexpectedly distributing, dark climax to this film was "When was the last time I completely got lost in a world and its characters in this way?". I can't call this s perfect film, and the direction isn't overly memorable, so what is it? It's a simple enough lesson in control that clearly resonated a lot with me.

It's control, and it's about learning to care. If your dream appeared before you, without you working for it, would you care and cultivate it? Your creation is a part of you, and if this creation is a real person, sure you can write til your heart's content, but there will be blanks that person will fill in. When those blanks go in an unexpected direction, you act to change it immediately This person is not a separate thing to you. You don't care or consider what this person is feeling. It is ultimately a puppet, and something you cannot grow with.

Then you step back and look at what this film and many films in general are doing to you. As Dano writes another line and takes Ruby in another direction, the writer and director are manipulating us in that very same manner. Dano showing Ruby that piece of paper, saying "hey, look at what I'm doing to you whether you're aware or not" feels like a message Kazan is trying to get across to us.

Most times, you're not acutely aware you're being manipulated. As long as it's for a few hours inside a theatre before you had back to reality, I'm ok with it.

5 stars if it had ended ten minutes sooner.
paul o.
paul o.

Super Reviewer

August 10, 2012
From an imaginative script by Zoe Kazan, we are introduced into a world that is truly realistic fiction. Paul Dano plays a character that the audience can choose to like or hate and in the end have their own opinion on the film's uncertain ending. It has its highs and emotional lows and grabs your heart along for the ride. A unique fantasy romance.
Mark A

Super Reviewer

December 28, 2012
Zoe Kazan is a genius and a dang good actor, to boot! I want to own this one and that makes it a five star movie for me. I'm a sucker for a good love story, and especially when it involves a dork like Calvin (Paul Dano). Some stories are so far out there you never buy into the basic premise. Others introduce a level of fantasy that makes no rational sense, and yet for the sake of the story, one entertains the idea, "What if it was?" This, for me, was the latter. Yeah, this could never happen, but, what if it did? How would it play out? I was fully engaged in the story and loved the way the characters interacted. I know I've seen Zoe before and always find her characters to be interesting, but with this, she now gets put on the list of my favorites. I love that she is a fairly ordinary looking girl that, because of who she is, looks achingly beautiful. And to write such a multi-layered script at such a young age, on her first time out... Genius, I tell you!
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