Ruby Sparks (R) - Runtime: 104 minutes
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Chris Messina
Directors: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Writer: Zoe Kazan
I feel like I was getting a bit of deja vu while watching this movie. I remember a film called Stranger Than Fiction coming out a few years ago and completely loving that movie. It was a bit odd and off-center, but fun and heartwarming all at the same time. And here we are with Ruby Sparks - a story very much similar to Stranger Than Fiction, but it's told from the opposite viewpoint - that of the creator, not the creation.
Paul Dano plays Calvin - a once-successful writer (really a one-hit wonder) who after succumbing to a bit of writer's block, stumbles upon a brilliant story and character that viola! comes to life! Ruby is his creation and his real girlfriend, but she doesn't know it. Whereas Stranger Than Fiction mostly dealt with having no control over your life, Ruby Sparks looks at the idea of having control over someone's life and relationship. The other major difference from these two movies is that STF is more light-hearted, sometimes comedic and Ruby Sparks is simply a dramatic drag at times.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the movie, but boy does it try to hit you over the head with it's MEANING and SYMBOLISM. The problem stems from the main character - Calvin. He's an overly pompous and unlikable twat. He's so full of himself and thinks his life is so miserable even though his book is getting made into a movie and he basically doesn't have to worry about money at all so all he has to do is write every now and then. It's completely off-putting and the film is intentional with this, but to a fault. I didn't care too much if he found true love. I just felt really, really sorry for Ruby and that she had to deal with Calvin.
What surprised me the most was his family - Calvin has an awesome family. Who wouldn't want Chris Messina as a brother? And Annette Benning may be a tad to hippieish for my tastes, but she loves her sons. Antonia Banderas shows up Calvin's mother's boyfriend who's also a hippie and I totally did a double take. This isn't your typical Banderas - he has a beard and white hair! It's crazy, but I totally dug his character - he made a chair for Calvin and my heart grew ten sizes! And although the shit Calvin puts Ruby through is pretty awful, I liked the ending. It was fitting and certainly made up for all the brooding and ostentatious dialogue. It's a movie worth checking out - it doesn't overstay its welcome and you'll end up with a smile on your face at the end and what more could you ask for?
Rating: Rent It!