Wednesday 23 Jul

Escape from Tomorrow

With Escape from Tomorrow, one fears the story behind the movie would loom larger than the movie itself. Luckily, that is not the case. After all, it opens with a decapitation on Disney World’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad roller coaster.
05/06/2014 | Comments 0


William Friedkin spends a lot of time in his 2013 memoir discussing why Sorcerer didn't click with critics and audiences even though he believes it to be better than his previous film, The Exorcist. Now that Warner Home Video has reissued Sorcerer on Blu-ray, we can see what Friedkin's fuss is all about.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Broadchurch: The Complete First Season

Welcome to the coastal resort of Broadchurch, population … oh, who can keep track, what will all the corpses? Yes, Broadchurch is yet another British television procedural involving the search for a murderer in a quaint little town, just like the limited series The Fall and Top of the Lake.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones

Essentially part five in the ridiculously profitable horror franchise, Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones continues the found-footage conceit of the other films. The difference is instead of the scares taking place in rich white suburbia, they do so in a junky apartment complex on a largely Latino side of Oxnard, Calif.
04/23/2014 | Comments 0

Holy Ghost People

Holy Ghost People examines two sisters whose bond is torn — but by what? After her sibling has been missing for more than a year, Charlotte (Emma Greenwell, TV's Shameless) intends to find out.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Movies · Comedy · Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks

In this appealing indie rom-com, a novelist’s girl of his dreams springs from the page to a real person.

Rod Lott August 15th, 2012

In Ruby Sparks, wunderkind author Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano, There Will Be Blood) has a few problems — one being that he is dateless, another that his male dog pees like a girl. More pressing is that he lacks the inspiration to follow up the Great American Novel that landed the high-school dropout on The New York Times best-seller list when he was all of 19.

This changes when, at the urging of his shrink (Elliott Gould), Calvin writes about the young woman who wanders in and out of his slumber. The girl of his dreams literally becomes the girl of his dreams when she appears in his waking life, in his kitchen, as if they’re already a devoted couple.

Her name is Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan, Revolutionary Road), and she’s cut from the cloth pattern labeled Adorable Hipster Girlfriend. Having his ideal partner available to him 24/7 inspires an adrenaline rush of prose in Calvin, and he finds that whatever he types about her on the page comes true with the living, breathing version.

It’s as if Weird Science fell in love with Adaptation, and they each went in halfsies on a subscription to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern.

The best thing about Ruby Sparks, which opens Friday at AMC Quail Springs Mall 24, 2501 W. Memorial, is Ruby herself: both the character and her creator, as Kazan wrote the screenplay for her and Dano, her real-life boyfriend. The clever script is in good hands with married directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, who finally work again after their Oscar-winning sleeper hit of 2006, Little Miss Sunshine.

The two films share similarities — quirky but well-tempered characters, an effective score, posters of people running toward the right (see Exhibit A, at right) — but Sparks emits less energy, only some by design.

A section of the film in which Calvin and Ruby visit his mother and stepfather (Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas) is comically out of tone, and Dano fails to rise to the climax’s dark demands, relying on an open mouth to emote while Kazan commands the screen and runs circles around him.

Hers is a performance that traverses many layers, emotions and even languages, and the ultimate reason to see Ruby Sparks. While it may be a sidestep for Dayton and Faris, the film marks a huge leap forward for Kazan.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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