Like every professional writer, Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) struggles with writer’s block. Unlike every author, except Emma Thompson’s character in Stranger Than Fiction, he conjures prose so powerful he actually brings his literary creation to life.
We’re not talking about the nerdy-looking Calvin writing himself into a billionaire playboy’s life. No, guided by his shrink Dr Rosenthal (Elliott Gould), he starts writing about a 26-year-old Ohio rebel who was kicked out of high school for sleeping with her teacher.
Oddly enough, Ruby Sparks (Dano’s actual girlfriend Zoe Kazan) steps “out of his mind” and his pages and shows up at his house. Since she’s essentially girl of his dreams, and she has to do whatever his typewriter tells her to, including speaking French all of a sudden, it’s no surprise that romance blooms between writer and fictional character.
Weir-Fields couldn’t believe it was happening. How was it possible that a fictional character he made up from his dream had come to life? But fast forward past the getting-to-know-you and flirting, and… BAM! This was a girl who didn’t talk about herself nor her background, but what was revealed about her was only what was written of her. So while the couple meet the Weir-Fields family – brother Harry (Chris Messina), mom Gertrude (Annette Bening) and dad Mort (Antonio Banderas), there is no mention of Sparks’s family and friends.
However, will Sparks find out that she is just a character made up and come to life? What happens then if she does find out? Can she escape from this reality? As Weir-Fields starts to write more chapters, the movie’s story also starts to unfold.
Lead actress Kazan wrote Ruby Sparks, this being her first screenplay. Besides Stranger Than Fiction and the movie/sitcom Weird Science, this movie’s premise also draws elements from Adam Sandler’s Bedtime Stories, where the made up tales somehow become reality the next day.
As you probably already know, Ruby Sparks shouldn’t be taken seriously. If questions such as ‘How in the world did a fictional character come to life?’ and ‘Does this Ruby Sparks girl really exist?’ keep hounding you, just remember that it’s been classified as fantasy for a reason.
Also, this movie isn’t your typical rom-com because as mentioned earlier, there is little flirting, cheesy pick-up lines and getting-to-know-you involved. Don’t expect a sappy love movie with a happy ending, like A Cinderella Story and Just Go With It because Ruby Sparks is far from it. In fact, it’s a mystery why this show was classified as comedy, as there’s hardly any humour and comic relief in it.
Storyline wise, it was quite odd as there wasn’t much of an antagonist or a climax. The only scene that can count as the latter, is where limits were pushed, and it changes everything because Weir-Fields was then forced to make a decision for Sparks. The climax came too late and too close to the credits roll.
On the plus side, Ruby Sparks shines in the area of cinematography rather than focusing so much on the storyline, There was adequate focus on details, one of which is the reflection of the typewriter in Weir-Field’s spectacles as he types. This detail is significant as the typewriter is a constant throughout the movie.
Despite its awkwardly predictable ending, there’s a good moral of the story to be learnt from Ruby Sparks, which is that happiness can’t and shouldn’t be forced.
From the same directors that brought you Oscar-winning Little Miss Sunshine in 2006, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris worked together once again to bring a different kind of love story to audiences. The latter pales in comparison with the previous work in terms of storyline and cast, but then again comparing a comedic adventure to a fantasy romantic comedy isn’t fair to Ruby Sparks.
So, does this new movie set off sparks? Not so much in the movie, but perhaps, more sparks during the collaboration between the husband and wife team directors and lead cast couple team for the filming of this show.
•Movie name: Ruby Sparks
•Release Date: 20 September 2012
•Runtime: 104 mins
•Censorship Rating: NC16 (Some Coarse Language and Sexual References)
•Director: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
•Main actors: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan
All photos courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.