Aneesh Chaganty

Ruby Sparks | MAD Review

In Uncategorized on December 6, 2012 at 8:59 PM

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Ruby Sparks 

(2012, US, d. Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)

The husband-wife directing team that brought us Little Miss Sunshine – one of the most honest and touching films of recent times – tries again with Ruby Sparks, an unfortunate and underwhelming second effort.

I was really excited to watch this movie. The story has a lot going for it: A novelist struggling with writer’s block finds romance in a most unusual way: by creating a female character he thinks will love him, then willing her into existence” (from IMDb).

Calvin (Paul Dano) wakes up one day to discover that his creation, a woman named Ruby Sparks (played by Zoe Kazan), is making breakfast in his kitchen. Unfortunately, the potential of that premise never really plays out from there. Stale, boring, and overly predictable, Ruby Sparks is only saved by little moments of creativity. 

Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan and (the always incredible) Chris Messina try their best, but even their earnest efforts can only take you so far. There was no life in this film, no wonder, and none of the chemistry Sparks teased us with in the trailer. In fact, it felt like the characters were created to fit into the cute message Kazan (who also penned the script) intended for the film. In essence: it was the script that threw this project off its tracks, and nothing else. I was really surprised I arrived at this conclusion, considering the film is nominated for a screenplay award at the Independent Spirit Awards.

Don’t get me wrong. Ruby Sparks had its moments. I remember laughing out loud a few times and there were genuine moments I felt engrossed and intrigued. But most of these moments never pay off. They’re just isolated gems in a sea of mediocrity. Which is another huge problem with this film: it’s not bad, it’s just painfully average – apart from the terribly contrived ending, which deservedly falls flat on its face.

The movie asks the audience: “What if everything Calvin writes about Ruby comes true?” The plot twists, gaps, emotional manipulations, thematic content – it’s all derived from this question. But the whole time, I was asking another question – amazed at the protagonist’s inability to think of it. Why didn’t he just write “They lived happily ever after”? 

 

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