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Ruby Sparks writes its own take on the love story
rgblakey2 August 2012
In a world full of remakes and sequels, it is becoming more and more rare to get something truly original. When something does finally come along it is always hit and miss. Backed by a strong cast including Paul Dano, Steve Coogan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, and Elliott Gould, Ruby Sparks attempts to be that latest independent film to bring audiences something new and creative. Can a film with an idea that seems to be based on both fantasy and reality come together to deliver that refreshing film or be just another lost opportunity? Ruby Sparks follows a writer dealing with writer's block as well as a desperate attempt to find love. When the female character he is writing becomes real, his life spirals into various directions trying to determine where his writing will take them. While the story basis for this film comes off a bit unrealistic, the way it is handled makes you buy into the story. For the first half of the film it is pretty funny and creative delivering one of the more entertaining original films in sometime. As it moves forward and towards the inevitable darker tone it seems to slow down a bit making some moments drag a little. Everyone gives a great performance, but Paul Dano really steps up delivering a quirky uncomfortable innocence to the lead that makes it all work. Some of the characters decisions could have been looked at as a bit creepy, but thanks to the way he handled it comes off as a bit more enduring. This is easily one of the more unique romantic comedies to come along in a while stepping away from the normal format and instead taking a left hand turn creating something new.

This is a funny touching film that does get a bit heavy at times and while not a long movie does feel a bit too long at times due to pacing. As a whole, it still manages to work on most levels and accomplishes what it seems to set out to do. If you are ready and willing to take a break from the big budget spectacles of Hollywood, then give this character study a chance you will be pleasantly surprised.
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Sweet, quirky not just romantic not just comedy
richard-196727 July 2012
The unique Zoe Kazan wrote and stars in this quirky, fascinating, and original film about a writer with writer's block (Paul Dano, Kazan's real-life main squeeze) who invents the girl of his dreams, writes about her, and watches her become real.

While this film has been billed by reviewers and marketed by publicists as a "romantic comedy," in many ways it's not. It's both more and less. Less predictable, certainly, as the endings of modern romantic comedies are notoriously pat. More ... what? Strange? Edgy? Depressing even (at times)? Maybe all of the above. But ultimately upbeat.

The gifted Paul Dano has created a character - a young woman - who is exactly who he wants, or at least so he thinks. It's not until he meets his ex at a party 2/3 of the way through the movie that the audience really begins to understand what's going on. And it's not just hearts and flowers. But no spoilers here.

That Kazan pulled off both this original idea AND the ability to end it in a way that made sense yet left unanswered questions that should be unanswered is testimony to her screen-writing talents. Her roots here are strong: both of her screen writing parents and her famed grandfather Elia. But Zoe is also extremely appealing as the film's title character, showing a range of acting skills that could make her a star.

And for fun, we get Bening, Banderas, and Gould, all enlivening the proceedings.

Original movies are hard to find, and when you find them, often hard to watch. This film is both original and very watchable.
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Original, Interesting, Romantic
ThousandsOfFilms7 July 2013
The storyline is original and very well written. I thought it was great. It's not about superheroes or an action movie or a thriller or a blockbuster. So who would enjoy it? Geeks, smart people, romantics, sci- fi lovers ... Regarding the latter, I'm sure the writer was not thinking in terms of sci fi, but it meets my #1 criterion for great sci fi, namely, it changes one aspect of ordinary reality, preferably the here and now and not the distant future, and through that change gives insight into that ordinary reality that we live in. Despite its' being about impossible fiction, it seemed more real than most movies. A lot of the best writing has a writer as the main character - so maybe it's true that one should write about what one knows best. Of course, it's about romance and objectification as well and that's well done as well.
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Review: Ruby Sparks - On Par With 500 Days of Summer and Like Crazy
Dave_ATC7 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Ruby Sparks is a narcissistic narrative from the fingertips of a lonely writer, blossoming into a Pinocchio-like tale that binds fiction, fable and phenomenon.

How hard is it to find the girl of your dreams? If you found her, would she really live up to your expectations?

As a writer, journalist, blogger, and someone who knows the struggles associated with putting pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, this movie hits home. Not in the sense where I've created imaginary friends, or girls to associate with, but the difficulty, and anguish that comes with writing. It's often said that writers hate to write, but eventually say they are happy that they have written, no film will hold that truth more than Ruby Sparks.

Paul Dano stars as Calvin, a young writing prodigy who experienced fame around the age of 19 after writing a New York Times Best Selling Novel. Since then he has traveled with expectations of another great literary work. Like every writer on the face of this planet (myself included as I write this) his writers block triumphs over all, and he even goes to therapy about it.

One night, while asleep, he dreams of his "dream" girl, instantly he awakes and springs to his typewriter, because well…it's 2012 and why would he have a laptop. Calvin writes about his dream girl, an entire story, and then POOF, like magic, she appears in his house like she was there the whole time.

I love the idea. I adore the premise of this film; simply because it's such a bizarre fantasy, one that every guy would kill for, and it was translated onto film in such an endearing and powerful way.

The story unfolds in three parts, you get the set up of who Calvin is, you see his struggle with writing something new, and then we meet Ruby, then the realities of the situation begin to take shape. Ruby Sparks is a romantic fantasy that exudes passion, charm, laugher, and pain. It balances the realities of life with the mythical substance created inside of Calvin's forthcoming pages.

Zoe Kazan plays Ruby, the red-haired, spunky counterpart of Calvin's imagination. Appearing out of thin air, and into Calvin's life; from the discovery of her actual existence to basking in the fermenting love connection, Calvin and Ruby are two peas in a pod. It's pure bliss, like two perfect people found each other, it's nothing short of a hocus pocus spell in the eyes of Calvin.

Kazan deserves bonus kudos for also writing the film, along with starring in it.

Now as Calvin comes to terms with the fact that he has created his dream girl, he finds out he can also make her do whatever he wants, as long as he types it into the story. Sure, far fetched, his brother, Harry, played by Chris Messina doesn't believe this farce of a story either, so proof must be provided. Calvin can make her speak fluent French, be an amazing cook, snap while she talks, extremely happy and bouncy, or even really sad.

He is a puppeteer.

So now the question presents itself, if you had this ability, how far would you go? You control another human being, they are your robot, you are their master, that's what this film and Calvin is/are at it's core. And how interesting is that, as writers we can manipulate characters and stories any way we want with the help of the keys, Calvin is the sculptor of Ruby not only on paper, but in real life.

The film unfolds as Calvin tells his brother, "I'll never write about her again" meaning he wasn't going to finish the story that created Ruby, so that she, nor the relationship would be ruined. The young author soon realizes that once you let go of the creative control of another person, they begin to develop personalities and traits of their own, also known as character, Ruby, being fresh in Calvin's life starts gaining independence and self awareness.

This is where the struggle, and emotional anguish of the film begins. Here is what bridges the gap of Ruby Sparks from imaginary tale, pure doses of reality.

Paul Dano continues to grow, and shine as an actor, his latest work in Being Flynn, and here in Ruby Sparks, have shown the amount of versatility, and depth he can covey in roles. The lanky frame, cardigan wearing, mop hair style makes him the quintessential writer-type, while real life girl friend Zoe Kazan and her bright hair and blue eyes play Ruby to be the girl men would certainly desire.

The chemistry is felt throughout the film, from the happy scenes, to the climax, gut wrenching fight scenes, you must wonder what kind of a toll this took on the actual relationship during production? I have a slight beef with the ending as it was a tad predictable, not from the start of the film, but as the film is coming to a close you can sort of tell how it will end, in a romantic and sweet way.

Supporting roles from Annette Bening as Calvin's hippy mother, Antonio Banderes as her carpenter boyfriend, Steve Coogan, and therapist Elliot Gould, all add great depth and feel to the film.

Great (young) romantic films are impossible to come by, especially ones that also feel authentic. I can only think of two in the last handful of years, 500 Days of Summer, and Like Crazy. I'm confident to proclaim Ruby Sparks is being thrown on that mantel (of mine), and young folks from 18-30 should really love this film.
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Charming and thought provoking
razvan-rogoz16 December 2015
This is a movie that you can either love or hate, based on how you see it.

On one side, it is a fantasy movie with "Groundhog day" accents (no, the day doesn't repeat again and again).

On the other side, it is a beautiful metaphor which if you recognize, it is impossible not to give it a 10. Not because it is perfect. It has charm but it is a bit slow paced at times and the execution is not amazing.

But rather because ... it feels so familiar. It is one of those movies describing what we've done, what we've felt, like it is our story. It is a different setting, different people, different circumstances but it is our personal story, at least for a large majority of people.

This is why I like it and this is why I've decided to write this review. It made me think. It made me feel. It made me remember some parts of my life.

It made me go over the plot holes and the "how the hell this can happen" type of scenes but rather, just think ...

"Would I do the same?" and most importantly ...

"Have I've done the same?".

That's why you should watch this movie.

The plot is not that important. The underlying message of this movie is. While I don't like romantic comedies so much, I can place it next to two other movies "If I stay" and "Tres Metro El Cielo". And while these two movies may seem as a "How to boost your estrogen level in 90 minutes" types of art, they also carry a very profound lesson.
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Proof that an "Indie" Doesn't Have to be Bitter to be Good
gary-387-7038949 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
After reading several reviews about Ruby Sparks, my observation that many think that an indie film somehow must be bitter, jaded or even downright mean to its characters to be good was reinforced. Well, I suspect it's those reviewers who are jaded.

Ruby Sparks is romance. It's funny in places, it's quirky (and has its flaws, sure, but they're easily forgiven). So don't watch it under a microscope. Watch it for what it is: a mildly oddball romantic comedy with a nice, superbly-refreshing twist.

Don't watch it if you simply can't stand sweetness in an "independent film." It's not sappy, it's not laid on thick. To me, it was just the right amount. And left me feeling warm and good inside.

Performances are excellent. The story line may border on formulaic...or APPEAR to. Give it a chance to break away. Sweetness is NOT a bad thing. Enjoy.
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livingthefilmlife19 October 2012
The film is a lot different from the trailer. It's very good, brilliant actually, fun and enjoyable but much darker. The film shows it as a light weight,playful film, not as a psychotic man who needs to control every small detail in his life including the woman he loves. It is truly brilliant, but go in with an open mind, don't leave the trailer to guide you through the film. I sound like I'm giving it a bad impression. I don't mean to, I came out with my dad and I absolutely loved it, we spent most of the journey home contemplating what we had seen. And in all truths, I want the mum's house, and their water slide, and more!
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Calvin creates a real girl out of his writing
soulygal8 August 2012
It is an honest movie. In the beginning it is cute and funny, but then it quickly turns very serious and a little bit dark. Calvin creates a very similar relationship, to his last, with a woman who appears after he writes about her. It is a movie about their struggles as he attempts to create his perfect relationship by changing it on paper. It is a beautifully written story. Most movies today are about the special effects and don't have enough of the story. This movie is full of story and a great one. You will leave the movie theater feeling like you just watched a really great movie! Must see! This is what movie making should be about.
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Calvin says ... bark like a dog
ferguson-65 August 2012
Greetings again from the darkness. Well it took six years, but co-directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris finally deliver their follow-up to the smash hit Little Miss Sunshine. With a script from first time screenwriter Zoe Kazan (granddaughter of legendary director Elia Kazan), we get an odd mash-up of would-be Woody Allen, Charlie Kaufman, Stranger Than Fiction, and a Twilight Zone episode.

The story begins almost as a whimsical fantasy. Paul Dano plays Calvin, a blocked writer 10 years after writing the next great American novel, while he was still a teenager. The necessary comparisons to JD Salinger are made, and we witness Calvin as a socially-inept type who was never comfortable with his early success, and now can't find a way to move on with life. Given a writing assignment by his shrink (Elliott Gould), Calvin discovers the true power of the written word.

After a dream of meeting a lovely girl in the park, Calvin's fingers tear through his manual typewriter and develop a story around his literal dream girl. And literal means literal. He runs into her downstairs. His creation has become his creation. Once he realizes they aren't going to lock him away for insanity, Calvin and Ruby begin a real relationship. Well as real as it can be with a girl who is not really real and whose actions can be changed simply by typing words on a page. If you think this sounds like a male fantasy, then you are in agreement with Calvin's brother (Chris Messina).

A trip to visit the brothers' mothers (Annette Bening) and her boyfriend (Antonio Banderas) adds some humorous scenes while also signaling the beginning of trouble for Ruby and Calvin. It turns out that bringing your invented dream girl into the real world doesn't always work so well. Who would have thought? There is much humor in the film including Steve Coogan as Calvin's mentor. Deborah Ann Woll has a scene as Calvin's ex-girlfriend and it is probably the best written scene in the film. Really good insight into how two people's view of the same relationship can vary greatly.

The story can be looked at from different perspectives. It certainly serves as insight into how a writer's mind can work. Many writers need a muse ... but few get to create their own! More importantly, it makes a statement on how we (well, not me) often try to control and manipulate the other person in our relationships. This is a sterling reminder to be careful what you ask for ... you just might get it.
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rooee15 October 2012
Paul Dano plays Calvin, a dead sad and dead serious young writer, who has apparently used the royalties from his one hugely popular novel to finance an ultramodern iPod-themed house, and yet still chooses to use a typewriter. In the depths of his writer's block he fashions a few choice sentences about a woman - Ruby Sparks - who is his dream girl. His literature makes her literal, and Calvin is able to control her moods and actions by typing. It's reminiscent of Stranger Than Fiction with Will Ferrell, although Dano plays his part more like Jim Carrey might have done a decade ago: broad and physical, but with subtlety and pathos behind the mugging.

In a welcome tonal shift, Ruby Sparks moves gradually from hip romantic comedy to meta-horror - although it feels like there's a bit too much of the former, as I got the feeling that the zany pixie girl and self- hating writer stereotypes were being indulged more than they were being deconstructed. So what could have been a really interesting Woody Allen-esque philosophical rabbit-hole ends up cutting a far more familiar, shallower groove. But still, it's satisfying to see a cautionary flourish to go with the wish fulfilment.

Ruby herself is played by Zoë Kazan, granddaughter of the great Elia (On the Waterfront et al), with great energy and some charm. Kazan also wrote the film. So we have a film about art imitating life, written by the actor playing the title character, starring her real-life partner (Dano), and directed by the real-life partnership of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (best known for Little Miss Sunshine). So it's a helluva conundrum; but it's also well-made, sometimes funny and thought- provoking, and includes amusing cameos from Elliot Gould, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan and Antonio Banderas - so definitely worth a watch.
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Ruby Sparks...3.5 out of 4 Skittles
FilmStallion6 September 2012
What do you do if you're a struggling actress searching for the right part that will help separate you from the hungry pack of millions of other starving wannabes? Well…you write one for yourself of course. Zoe Kazan, who has made a living with smaller supporting roles in a variety of films, (Revolutionary Road, Happythankyoumoreplease, It's Complicated) writes and stars as the title character in Ruby Sparks, a role that is bound to officially put her on the map. She doesn't allow you to take your eyes off her, and has loads of fun playing with the mass amount of emotions that come from being the figment of a possible crazy person's imagination.

Ruby Sparks is creative, original, highly entertaining and one of the best films of the year. Directors, Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris, team up for the first time since 2006's breakout film, Little Miss Sunshine, and provide the same zeal and love that made it a huge success.

The rest of the cast is nothing short of phenomenal. Paul Dano (Cowboys & Aliens, There Will Be Blood) continues to build on his reputation as one of the strongest actors of his generation. Great actors make great choices with their role selection, and Paul once again shows he has fantastic taste. Chris Messina, who seems to appear everywhere (Film…Julie & Julia, Greenberg, Away We Go, Devil, Like Crazy, TV…The Newsroom, Damages) is strong as the side man once again, and is more than ready to be major star. Acting legends Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas and Elliot Gould jump in for short periods of time making huge waves and leaving long lasting impressions.

Unlike most romantic type movies, Ruby Sparks doesn't feel like a retread Kate Hudson…Sandra Bullock…Katherine Heigl cheese fest, and is filled with a fun, creative energy that is too often missed in rom-com's. Ruby Sparks is superb on all fronts, and as a movie of the year candidate shouldn't be missed.

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Touching Romantic Fantasy of Writer's Creation Come to Life
Dense9912 August 2012
I liked the movie a lot. I felt very moved and intrigued both by the premise and the complications to move the story along.

Big but: The lead character, Calvin, is not believable as a "genius novelist" nor even as a pretty good one. Why? He has no idea how to make Ruby, whom he completely controls, subtle and complex the way any good novelist would his characters.

He paints her happy and sad, joyful and childishly clinging with such broad brush strokes he is an incompetent "inventor" of a character/person, let alone his dream girl. If you or I created an automaton, WE might swing back and forth to the extremes while trying to adjust his/her behavior. Calvin should be an expert not a tyro at subtle shades of behavior. Granted, if he got her just right, we would have no crisis to force the story to a resolution.

And the resolution is Hollywood sugar. In Europe or Israel, the hero would be left with the sad results of his failure. (He stares out to sea on a deserted beach to ponder what happened and his bleak future?) Here, the filmmakers insist we leave the theater feeling good about Calvin and Ruby.
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"Ruby Sparks" is updated Pygmalion story
chuck-reilly29 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
In the Indie film "Ruby Sparks," Paul Dano plays a former wunderkind novelist who has hit the wall and run into permanent writer's block. His social life is non-existent and he decides to consult a psychiatrist (Elliot Gould) for some answers to his dilemma. Since all else has failed, his shrink suggests that for inspiration he begin writing about what occurs in his dreams. Dano takes the advice to heart and starts to write about the perfect girl of his dreams (beautiful, smart, sexy, totally endearing). Through the magic of Hollywood and an off-beat screenplay, "Ruby Sparks" (played by Zoe Kazan) suddenly turns up "in the flesh." In fact, she's already living in Dano's house and has been there for quite a while. At first Dano thinks he's losing his mind, or at the least, seeing things. But everyone else sees Ruby too, so she has to be real...or is she? Dano soon finds out that as he continues to write about her, he can actually control her personality and emotions, good or bad. But having this type of power is not healthy for any relationship, real or imagined. Without giving away the ending, you might say that Dano has to "write her off." Call this a warped "My Fair Lady" tale, but the actors (particularly Dano and Kazan who are lovers in real life) pull it off with aplomb. In fact, Ms. Kazan, the grand-daughter of the great film director Elia Kazan, wrote the screenplay. The directors of "Ruby Sparks," Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, are the same duo who brought us "Little Miss Sunshine," and their sensibilities for character development are of the same high standard as that film. Others in the cast include Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening who give excellent support as Dano's high-energy stepfather and free-spirited mother. I won't give the movie and "A" for originality since this territory has been mined before, but the rest of its ideas and the execution of it are all first-rate.
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A "Spark" Of Originality
williemajeska720 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Ruby Sparks is a film that is different from most romantic movie's I have ever seen. It star's Paul Dano as Calvin, a writer whose first novel was a huge hit but is yet to write anything since. He is bitter about relationships due to the poor ending to the only one he's ever had. This coupled with his father's death has sent him to therapy. In one of his sessions he is encouraged to write about a girl who likes his dog Scotty despite the fact it is sloppy and pee's incorrectly. He proceeds to go home and has a dream about this girl and is stuck to his typewriter the next day typing out her whole life story. Thus we have our title character Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan).

This movie is based on Calvin's realization that he can control Ruby, as he wrote her into existence. It show's how in relationships it is nearly impossible to make things perfect, it gives us insight into the fact that nobody is perfect and it shows how hard it can be for others to accept those imperfections. However, the most important lesson I believe this movie teaches is that said imperfections MUST be accepted if you want to be truly happy.

The lead performance by Paul Dano is quite good. He displays a full range of emotion throughout the film. Zoe Kazan plays a very lovable Ruby Sparks, she makes Calvin's complete fixation with her character believable. Chris Messina plays Calvin's brother Harry and is often a quite humorous voice of reason. Antonio Banderas also makes an appearance as Calvin's step- father and is consistently funny.

The movie as a whole is a funny, emotional ride. It chronicles the importance of being willing to accept others for what they are and how trying to change them causes nothing but turmoil. The score is very well incorporated and often heightened the dramatic scenes.

All in all, Ruby Sparks was a fun and likable movie, much like its namesake character. I would recommend a viewing of this to anyone who enjoys a good heartfelt film.

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Guileful genies' wish-fulfillment for Zoe Kazan
embedrei31 December 2012
Warning: Spoilers
This is basically the well-known story of the three wishes granted by a mystic power that always come with a catch. It has been told countless times, from "The Monkey's Paw", the classic short story by W. W. Jacobs, to the X-Files episode "Je Souhaite" that is only mildly entertaining, but vastly superior to "Ruby Sparks". You make your first wish, realize that it didn't turn out as you had expected it and use your second wish to undo the unwanted consequences of the first. Now you try to phrase the third wish in a way that makes it absolutely impossible to backfire. The most common cheat is to wish for more wishes. If you can try long enough, something will finally turn out right.

This is actually the convenient starting situation for the "genius novelist" Calvin Weir-Fields, who with the help of his magic typewriter wrote his dream girl Ruby Sparks into existence. With regard to her he's got an endless supply of wishes. He writes down that Ruby speaks in fluent French and she does. If he wants to understand what she's saying, he just turns her back to English.

But Calvin has three big problems. He doesn't really know what he wants. He doesn't know what to do with a woman who is around all the time. And his descriptive powers are regrettably scrubby. He probably authored the first SMS-novel.

After a while, Ruby gets bored, wants some personal space and moves "back" into "her apartment" - that by a strange magical twist or just because of lazy screen writing really exists. Afraid of losing Ruby, Calvin writes down one sentence: "Ruby was miserable without Calvin." Yeah, right. This is going to solve all the problems. Predictably Ruby gets too clingy and gloomy, so Calvin writes down the next remedy: "Ruby was filled with the most effervescent joy." If he were just 8 years old, he could still be called a literary whizkid, because this is at least more eloquent and meaningful than "Ruby happy". But in the long tradition of wish-fulfillment fantasies he is one of the most inept disciples. In the end he goes all power mad, forcing Ruby to shout the praise "You're a genius!" over and over again, thus embarrassing everyone still watching. And there are another 12 annoying minutes to come.

In the beginning some scenes are a bit amusing. The short appearance of Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening is enjoyable. For most of the time Ruby is quite nice to look at, even though Calvin obviously made some mistakes while describing/creating her chin. But all things considered this is just another example of the old "rich kid with Hollywood connections wants to write and star in a movie"-genre. Zoe Kazan's wish was granted - but it went all wrong.
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Good, but not as great as i was hoping.
JimmyCollins30 October 2012
This movie is a charming little film from a very exciting new talent, Zoe Kazan, who i think is going to excel with her next foray into screen writing. While watching this movie it's rather obvious that it's written by a first time writer, that's not to say that it's not well written because it is, it's just a little underwritten, some characters are underdeveloped and at times it lags without any type of direction. It may sound like i didn't like this movie but i did, it's quirky and very indie which is the kind of stuff i like, it has two leads who are excellent in their roles (it does help that the audience knows they are in love in real life), and it has a wonderful supporting cast, in particular the always excellent Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas who impressed me in a role i'd never picture him in otherwise.

One particular part of the film i like was the realistic portrayal of a modern day relationship, it's not all romance and love every day, there are dark parts to a relationship and it's portrayed here very well, the relationship ups and downs are some of the best i've seen in a film in a very long time. The production and all that jazz is done very well, it's impressive how low budget indie films are made so well and stylish these days, i guess it's a good indication of a director knowing how to make a movie well.

Little Miss Sunshine it ain't, but it is a bit of fun for a Sunday afternoon, it's nice to see a new girl on the block taking on the quirky side of cinema, MOVE OVER ZOOEY DESCHANEL, THERE'S A NEW ZOE ABOUT TO TAKE YOUR CROWN. ;)
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We all tend to create RUBY in our romantic relationships..
tinansubuga181 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is like Poetry . you can look for deeper meaning from it or take it as it is and either way you wont be disappointed.

I saw this movie in a different light and it touched me deep down to my very core.

When we fall in love..we initially take the person in as they are and we do not try to change any bit of them. This is so evident at the start when Ruby can do no wrong and Calvin thinks shes perfection..he loves her mess and when his brother says he has created a "girl" not a person he is trying to point out to him that no body is that perfect and Ruby is a human being and she will disappoint him and make mistakes every now and then.

Calvin is selfish in his love for Ruby ..he just wants to fill all the holes in his life that he had before she came regardless of what this will do to her. I think that this is very common in every day romantic relationships. We struggle with whether we really love someone or if we are just using them to fill the gaps in our own lives. If you love someone you realise that they are their own person and are entitled to mistakes and you just have to love them no matter what.

This is a beautiful movie and a breath of fresh air in the era where romance is depicted in the most unrealistic ways on screen.
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Good Concept ... But Fluffy Execution and Bad Hollywood Ending
tjdercks14 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This would have been an interesting 30 minute Twilight Zone episode (Writer creates character that comes alive. Are they real?) ... but the way they stretched this into a full length movie, is like turning a good burger into dinner for four (all the 'answers', were like Hamburger Helper).

Stop reading if you do not want a Spoiler ... since the flaws of this movie destroy it.

Writers create characters everyday, but those characters are frozen in time. They never age. They never change. Next time you pick up the book, they are the same. For some reason, Ruby wants, and this movie allows her, to change herself?

His relationship with Ruby was 'perfect', until he stopped expressing his devotion to her via writing. When he tried to script her via human interaction, they failed as a couple. Good Writers, do not always make good Directors ... but once he realizes this, the writing 'genius' tries to fix her, by writing short sentences. A writer creates a character with pages, and chapters. This renowned Writer tries to fix their problems with Tweets?

The biggest problem ... the Hollywood ending. It destroyed the entire concept. She should have disappeared, when he closed the book (set her free). Them meeting a year later, and her memory of him being erased, made no sense. She is reading the story of herself, but does not recognize the story, because he changed the characters name and her description? How screwed up is their relationship going to be, based on the lie (again) of him creating her. How do you explain her to your family? 'Here is Ruby. She does not remember me, and she is the girl I created in my second book ... but don't tell her?', and if they are able to carry that deception off ... How screwed up will she be, when she realizes all her memories are fake? Can you see her at her High School reunion? What do you do, tell her everyone has amnesia of her? LMFAO!

Maybe it is a generational thing, and relationships are now expected to be fixed with Tweets ... but that lowered this from an 8 to a 6. The 'romantic' ending, that would be a disaster it reality, and made no sense ... lowered a 6 to a 2.
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Barely tolerable - the goodwill of cute and quirky runs out pretty fast
charmaments7 January 2017
Warning: Spoilers
There are several problems with this film. The premise is far-fetched, but fine, I'll accept it. But Calvin's behavior is nonsensical. When he thought that Ruby was a figment of his imagination, he did not do anything to disprove it - record it, ask your neighbors if they see her, lift her so that she can change a light bulb, I don't know, think of something. Going out on a date and running into her by accident is so contrived.

Then comes the most annoying part. We have a protagonist with a god-like power and he does not know what he wants. That's the worst part of the story, it's difficult to watch and it's completely annoying. He is that indecisive, dissatisfied - he's just a problem-seeker. This is a guy who goes to restaurants, doesn't pick an item from the menu but makes up a random dish with his own ingredients and instructions, has it delivered to perfection and yet he still complains. Such person does not deserve love nor attention.

In short - this is a story of a guy so picky that his ideal woman is not good enough for him. He says he likes her the way she is, but he lies, he lies to himself and to others. People get bored, fine, but he gets bored with his own ideal partner and gets bored so quickly, yet he does this Ted Mosby "I'm just a lonely guy looking for true love" crap.

We're supposed to feel for him.

The ending is in poor taste. A forced happy ending. How does he plan on explaining to his family and friends that this is someone else? It's not the same girl, she just looks exactly like his ex-girlfriend. What he tell this new girl?

The writers/director of this film didn't give a hoot, so why should we?
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Interesting and well made
8512222 March 2015
Greetings from Lithuania.

"Ruby Sparks" (2012) is both intriguing, a bit fresh and very well made romantic drama with some fantasy elements. Script was very interesting, the premise turned out to be better than expected. Acting was good by all involved, i wish there would have been more scenes with Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas characters, they both had excellent cameos (yes, unfortunately they were to short to call them a real performances) - terrific sequence at the middle within Calvin's mom's house.

Overall, "Ruby Sparks" is a intriguing and a bit surprising movie. I really didn't expect it to be so good. Basicaly the best parts of it were it's unpredictability. When you start to think that you know in what direction this movie will go, it surprises you, and that's a very rare in these days cinema. "Ruby Sparks" is surely not to be missed.
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Ruby Sparks
annapintus215 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Literary 'genius' Calvin (Paul Dano), after his Salinger-like successes as a fresh faced 19 year old, ten years on is struggling with the age old problem of writers block, sat at his typewriter with little to inspire him besides his dog Scotty. Caught up in the midst of 'second album syndrome' Calvin has a dream in which he meets the free spirited Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan – who incidentally wrote the script) and instantly falls for her 'perfection'. Inspired by this figment of his imagination he begins to write, chronicling their dream-like encounters; a whirlwind romance exploding onto the page. Expect the unexpected however comes to mind when Calvin wakes up to find his 'dream girl' innocently making breakfast in his stylish LA kitchen.

With encouragement from his brother Calvin begins to live out his fantasies, making a life with the girl he conjured from his imagination. The comedy is soft but affective as Ruby becomes part of the family, meeting his hippy mum and sculptor step-dad in their makeshift giant tree house.

A new look at the myth of Pygmalion (the sculptor who fell in love with his statue), husband and wife team (as well as the creators of Little Miss Sunshine) Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris give a Woody Allen flare to a witty and quick paced script by newcomer Kazan.

The film has its dark moments. Morality issues arise when Calvin decides to manipulate his creation, making her happier or more subdued, as her human free will begins to compete with his character construction. Ruby moves from mania to deep depression as Calvin's ability to control her emotions backfires. The film acts as a comment on control in modern relationships, pushing the message that a human cannot be moulded to another's perception of perfection without there being consequences.

Even with this slight detour off into a darker place, the film wraps up pretty sweetly in the end with a chance encounter in the park; reaffirming that all is not lost for Calvin in his search for true 'true love', moving away from fantasy and firmly into the real world.
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A very entertaining romantic comedy
Argemaluco1 December 2012
Even though I'm not a fan of the romantic comedy genre, I tend to find the films from that style more tolerable when they come from independent cinema, because they usually possess an unusual artistic varnish which suggests deeper subjects. Besides, these films usually include more solid actors than the Hollywood stars whose routines we know by heart. Ruby Sparks belongs to that type of "indie" romantic cinema with a message, employing the clichés of the genre in order to tell an apparently fantastic story, but with a solid core of reality and valuable life lessons.

The use of "magic" in a romantic comedy is usually an excuse to solve situations in the most convenient way, without having to think too much. Nevertheless, in Ruby Sparks, screenwriter Zoe Kazan employs the fantastic elements as in indispensable basis of the premise. The main characters has some "literary groupies" who try to seduce him because of his fame; however, he's looking for someone to love him for himself...and when he finally finds Ruby, it seems that his wish was accomplished. But ironically, the main character can't accept her like she is and he proceeds to "improve" her, which provokes chaos in the relationship, and in his small universe of friends and family. In other words, finding (or "creating") the perfect woman doesn't necessarily lead to the perfect relationship. And from then on, anyone can draw his/her conclusions about this film, which ended up being much deeper and more ingenious than I expected.

Having said that, Ruby Sparks occasionally falls into the typical vices of independent cinema. The screenplay has some forced elements and occasionally can't avoid a pretentious air which is characteristic of the "Sundance syndrome". Going back to the pros, most of the cast brings competent performances, highlighting Kazan. I think the only weak spot is Antonio Banderas, who feels kinda forced in his character.

In summary, I enjoyed Ruby Sparks pretty much and I recommend it to the fans of the romantic comedy as well as to its haters, because it proves that the genre can produce interesting and amusing stuff when it's in the hands of filmmakers with talent.
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Indie-style RomCom rates a "Meh"
rp20514 September 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Calvin (Paul Dano) is a financially successful writer who lives alone with his dog. Calvin suffers from writer's block and hasn't recovered from the demise of his previous relationship. He spends his days moping around his LA Mansion and occasionally hanging out with his brother Harry (Chris Messina). Who can break Calvin's writer's block and drag him out of his self-imposed exile back into the sunlight of real life? Why, a manic pixie dream-girl, of course! The eponymous Ruby (played by Zoe Kazan who also wrote the screenplay) is a literally a dream girl since she first appears in Calvin's dreams the comes to life as he writes about her. In fact, it turns out that Calvin controls her behavior by writing about her. Will he seek to control her or will he "set her free"? This is the slender thread on which the movie hangs.

Ruby Sparks is an indie-style treatment of a Hollywood rom-com gimmick. It has some charm and a salutary (if somewhat hackneyed) message about the need to "give someone space" if you want to have a successful relationship. While its heart is in the right place, there is a major problem with the main character. Calvin is presented as so emotionally blocked that he can't form any relationships. His only significant romantic relationship as collapsed and he literally has no friends other than his brother. It hard to believe that such a stunted personality could write a coherent laundry list, much less a great novel which is beloved by millions. It is even harder to sympathize with his "poor little rich boy" problems. Furthermore, Calvin is apparently estranged from his mother (Annette Bening) and his stepfather (played by Antonio Banderas having fun hamming it up as a Big Sur dropout) for no apparent reason other than to make him even more mopey and estranged.

So, five stars for Zoe Kazan's and Antonio Banderas' performances and some fleeting moments of charm. Not a movie to avoid, but not one to seek out either.
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Damn these happy endings.
mat-mcnaughton-254-3325726 October 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I thought that Paul Dano was amazing in "Little Miss Sunshine" so I was excited to find out that he was in this. I watched it at the request of a friend, and it was a great movie. Except for that ending. This movie has a lot of the same thematic elements as "Stranger Than Fiction" including the happy ending, but at least the ending in "Stranger Than Fiction" makes sense. This was a terrible way to end the movie; it tried to be ambiguous but it was just stupid. There's no way they could possibly get together again without Dano telling Zoe Kazan that she was the girl in the book and that they already knew each other. So, aside from the ending, it's a very good movie. I love Kazan. (She's like a younger auburn-haired version of Zooey Deschanel.) Seeing Alie Shawkat was nice, but she needed a bigger part. Steve Coogan and Antonio Banderas were both lovely surprises, and I really hated Coogan's character. So it's overall an interesting concept but it caved into the pressure of movies having happy endings.
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Written Into Existence
Chris_Pandolfi25 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Ruby Sparks" begins as a great feat of imagination, transitions into a charming and witty romantic comedy, and ends as an intelligent commentary on the creative process, insecurity, controlling behavior, idealism, and the fragility of the male ego. It's all rather ingeniously combined into one of the most likable films I've seen all year – a fantasy, a character study, and a cautionary tale all rolled into one. It must have been a gamble for directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris; in combining such disparate genres, and in using them for a singular moralistic purpose, the potential for manhandling it to the point of pretentiousness and self-congratulation was high. Thankfully, nothing that could have gone wrong did. They somehow found the right balance between entertainment and message-making.

It tells the story of a Los Angeles-based writer named Calvin Weir- Fields (Paul Dano). Although he has a published novel to his name, which has just been republished for its tenth anniversary, he currently suffers from writer's block, in large part because his first and only attempt at being in a relationship ended in disaster. During a therapy session with his psychologist, Dr. Rosenthal (Elliott Gould), Calvin mentions a nonsexual dream he had about a young woman, whose style of conversation, he claims, fulfilled his need to be loved for who he is. Dr. Rosenthal gives Calvin a writing assignment: To describe this woman on a single page of paper. Calvin has one more dream, during which he and the woman have a complete conversation. When he wakes up, he rushes to his manual typewriter, inserts a sheet of paper, and feverishly begins to write again. This goes beyond a single sheet of paper; he soon has the beginnings of a manuscript featuring his newest character, a lovely young painter named Ruby Sparks.

The fantasy element kicks in when Calvin begins finding tidbits of women's apparel – a shoe, panties, a bra, etc. – around his house. Then, one morning, he awakens to find a complete physical manifestation of Ruby (Zoe Kazan, also the screenwriter) in his kitchen cooking breakfast. Initially convinced he has degenerated into mental illness, he quickly discovers that other people can see, hear, and touch her. Somehow, he has written a person into existence. He immediately contacts his brother, Harry (Chris Messina), who we can tell has put up with Calvin's neurotic tendencies for far too long. Understandably, Harry is more than a little skeptical about this situation, and he remains so even after meeting Ruby. As an experiment, and as a way to prove his sanity to Harry, Calvin types in his manuscript that Ruby can speak French without being aware of it. Sure enough, she immediately loses the ability to speak English.

What follows is a funny yet thought-provoking examination of relationships – or, more accurately, how we tend to filter relationships through our own distorted perceptions, not just of our partners but also of ourselves. Although he isn't physically or verbally abusive towards Ruby, Calvin is essentially the ultimate chauvinist, having the ability to control the smallest personality quirks of his girlfriend with just a few stokes of a keyboard. He, of course, doesn't see himself that way, and initially, he swears that he won't change her beyond the scope of how he dreamed her. But then she begins to show signs of independence and restlessness, giving him reason to fear that she might leave him. He knows that with just a few typewritten words, she can be the most devoted woman in the world. In fact, she can be whatever he wants her to be.

Calvin is repeatedly told that he knows absolutely nothing about women, and the film makes it clear that he doesn't. It's not an authentic girlfriend he wants. What he's really looking for is a female version of himself, which in this case isn't narcissism so much as it is a deep lack of confidence; he wants a solitary, subordinate, serious person, a woman that has no aspirations to be anything more than what she is. He wants someone that poses no threat to him. He begins to realize this when he takes Ruby to Big Sur to meet his comically hippie mother, Gertrude (Annette Benning), who, since the death of her creatively deficient husband, has entered a relationship with Mort (Antonio Banderas), a fun-loving, bearded lug who makes furniture out of driftwood.

Messina's character must have been tricky to develop, for he had to be engaging while at the same time act as Calvin's confidant, his heckler, his push towards temptation, and ultimately, his voice of reason. As would be expected, he's initially overwhelmed by Ruby's existence, and in the heat of the moment, he's envious that Calvin is living every man's fantasy. And yet, at no point does he divulge Calvin's secret, and although Harry is a flustered husband and a father, he makes no attempt to use his brother's inexplicable ability to alter his wife or child. This doesn't necessarily make him a better man than Calvin, although he does possess the ability to accept women for who they are and not for what he wants them to be. I didn't really know what to expect going into "Ruby Sparks," but a fascinating look at people relating to other people certainly wasn't it. Isn't it wonderful when movies surprise you?

-- Chris Pandolfi (
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