It was a small film. But over the course of months and word of mouth rave reviews, the little movie that could turned into an Oscar nominee in multiple categories. Six years later, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, the team behind “Little Miss Sunshine” is back with another little gem. Don’t be surprised if “Ruby Sparks” gains Oscar momentum by word of mouth yet again. Because I promise you, once you see this quirky romance/sci-fi dramedy you will spread the word!
So you’re probably scratching your head by my ‘quirky romance/sci-fi dramedy’ description but “Ruby Sparks” is part of a bizarre little genre that includes movies like “Weird Science”, “Mannequin”, “Splash” and “One Touch of Venus”. All rom-coms to be sure but with a science fiction/fantasy edge.
In “Ruby Sparks” Paul Dano, who played the suicidal teen in “Little Miss Sunshine”, is suffering from writer’s block. A victim of his own success, Calvin’s first (and last) novel catapulted him to cult hero status. For years he has been struggling for his next big thing but to no avail. A shy, introverted guy, his therapist (Elliot Gould!) gives him a writing assignment. Calvin’s struggles at the typewriter (eerily the mot unrealistic thing in this puff pastry) but when he starts committing dream girl to paper, the creative juices start to flow. As his dreams come more fast and furious, the trickle turns to a flood. The more he commits to paper, the more his fantasy life starts to bleed into his day to day reality. First he finds a high heel. Was this the shoe that girl was looking for in his dream?
It isn’t long before “Ruby Sparks” makes an appearance, completely oblivious to her manufacturing. But is Calvin going crazy? Is “Ruby Sparks” really here or is she just a figment of his imagination? It’s a question that seemingly gets answered early on but by the end of the movie you are left scratching your head. That unresolved mystery is part of the movie’s charm. But the twists and turns, belly laughs and dark emotions along the way are what make “Ruby Sparks” an unforgettable and completely original movie. The whole time I was watching it, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had seen this before. It wasn’t until later that I could kinda put my finger on it. I have since come to the conclusion that the film is very reminiscent of a good Twilight Zone episode, albeit one of the quirkier, sweeter ones.
Zoe Kazan breathes life into “Ruby Sparks” by embodying her in every way. Though not a beauty in the traditional sense, she is cute, thoroughly engaging and displays great talent in a wide range of emotions. Her talents extend all the way to the script as she penned the story herself. Paul Dano matches her step by step with an odd James Spader like quality. Rounding out the cast are Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas as Calvin’s free spirited mother and stepfather, with Chris Messina getting equal laughs as his brother and confidante.
While blockbuster after summer blockbuster have been disappointing, the little indie film morsels have proven to be the tastiest treats at the box office. I encourage you to dig into “Ruby Sparks” and enjoy!
“Ruby Sparks” pens 4 Red Vines for being a real original
A preview of this movie was provided by the studio but in no way affects this review.