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Ruby Sparks

December 8, 2012

Ruby Sparks movie poster


This has been an interesting review for me to write. I appreciate Zoe Kazan’s script yet didn’t enjoy spending time with the characters. I understand them and what she was going for but I had zero interest in Paul Dano’s character. I dig the idea of our lives being in constant rewrite and attempts to edit others never works. However, by telling the story from the perspective of a punk manboy who blames his dog for his writer’s block kept me away from the story.

Paul Dano plays a one hit wonder writer who wrote a book that is still celebrated ten years later. However, writing the follow up book has been nothing but years of staring at a typewriter, going to a psychiatrist and self pity. A dream comes to him in the form of the lovely Zoe Kazan. He writes a story and she comes alive.

Ruby Sparks Paul Dano


I like that Zoe Kazan is playing with the manic pixie girl that Hollywood idolizes. They leave out the flaws that made them fancy free. Creating the perfect woman is not enough. You need to grow with them and remember why you love them. In too many relationships people fall in love first then get to know each other. The true test is staying by each others side long enough to grow together. Editing is a dangerous thing. The problem with the film is that the editing comes from a man who only wants things his way.  I wanted to put Paul Dano in a time machine and introduce to Daniel Day-Lewis’s justifiably confused character from There Will Be Blood.

This is the story of a man who wrote the woman of his dreams then realized he had to do work on his end. Is she the perfect woman? He wrote her as a flawed thing who has years of baggage and doesn’t blend well with the sheltered writer and his dog. The two have a lovely montage then things get real. She strays away and he rewrites her to his liking. When that doesn’t work he keeps editing to keep her close. He changed the perfect woman because she grew and he didn’t.

Ruby Sparks Zoe


The idea for this film is better than the execution. Whenever an individual writes and stars in a film there is a certain push and pull that cannot be avoided. Zoe Kazan is a sparkplug yet she wrote the other characters with stock prose. Coogan is Coogan. Chris Messina is the jocky bro, and Dano is nothing more than a sullen brat.

Was she making a statement about the manic pixie girls (Garden State, Elizabathtown) whom inhabit writers brains? Did she simply want to give herself a good roll? The film has an interesting premise that feels by the books. The film goes dark but the plot stays the same. the biggest problem is that you don’t enjoy spending time with a neurotic, depressed author whom blames his dog for his writing problems.

I appreciate this film because it strives for something new. The idea is there but the the characters are not. Dano’s characer arch is so predictable that there is never anything at stake. Ruby Sparks is a nice little indie and Kazan will become a better writer with the learned experience.  Roger Ebert said this about the film:

“The movie’s intriguing in its fanciful way, and there are times when both Calvin and Ruby seem uncannily like they’re undergoing revision at the hands of some uber-writer above them both. If the film has a message, and I’m not sure it does, it may be: As long as you’re alive, you’re always in rewrite.”

Ruby Sparks Kazan

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