Movie Mom

Movie Mom


Ruby Sparks

posted by Nell Minow
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:Rated R for language including some sexual references and some drug use
Profanity:Very strong and explicit language
Nudity/Sex:Sexual references and non-explicit situation
Alcohol/Drugs:Drinking, some drug use
Violence/Scariness:Intense and emotional confrontations
Diversity Issues:None
Movie Release Date:July 27, 2012
DVD Release Date:October 29, 2012

The idea of bringing a dream significant other to life goes back at least as far as the ancient Greek myth of the sculptor Pygmalion, who created a statue so beautiful he fell in love with her.  Modern versions and variations include  the sublime (“My Fair Lady,” based on a play by George Bernard Shaw called “Pygmalion”) and the sillly (“Mannequin,” “Weird Science,” and “Mr. Right”).  “Ruby Sparks,” written by its star, Zoe Kazan, is a smart and endearing variation on the theme with emotional resonance that goes beyond the usual “be careful what you wish for” fairy tale.  It plays with the very notion of the prevalence of the girl whose job in the movie is to be the life force (memorably termed the “manic pixie dream girl” by critic Nathan Rabin).  The story may be about the writer who dreams up Kazan’s character, but it is Kazan’s voice telling the story.

Paul Dano (Kazan’s real-life boyfriend) plays Calvin (the names are well chosen), a writer of retro tastes (he uses a typewriter and drives a vintage car) who dresses in beiges and is struggling to write again after publishing an influential and critically acclaimed best-seller when he was a teenager.  His therapist (Elliott Gould)  has suggested that Calvin get a dog to help him go out and meet people.  And he tells Calvin to just write something, anything, even something awful, to get going.  Calvin gets caught up describing a warm-hearted and high-spirited girl named Ruby Sparks.  And the next morning, when he goes downstairs, there she is, matter-of-factly making breakfast, as though she is there every morning.

He understandably thinks he has lost his mind.  But then it turns out other people see her, too.  And it turns out that when he goes back upstairs to type additional information, she becomes whatever he writes.  When he writes that she speaks French, she speaks French.  She is literally a dream come true.  And at first, that seems perfect.

Kazan the screenwriter understands Calvin’s conflict.  He wants Ruby to be exactly what he has created, but he wants her to love him of her own volition, and he understands, at some level, that he cannot have both.  “I want to be what’s making her happy without making her happy,” he says.

Kazan’s fantasy is soundly based and superbly structured.  As Ruby expands Calvin’s plain, ordered world, their scope widens to include Calvin’s family and colleagues.  They visit his beaming child-of-the-universe mother (Annette Bening, embracing the caftan) and her sculptor boyfriend (a marvelous Antonio Banderas as Mort) and attend his publisher’s party.  Ruby becomes more and more her own person, which makes Calvin become his own person, too.

Directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton (“Little Miss Sunshine”)  make this world believable and inviting.   They keep the fantasy ligh but understand the emotional core that makes it bloom.

Parents should know this film has strong and explicit language, some crude references, brief drug use, and a non-explicit sexual situation.

Family discussion: Where did Ruby come from?  What other stories do you know about people who created their dream significant other?

If you like this, try: “Stranger than Fiction” and “happythankyoumoreplease”

 

 



Previous Posts

Contest: Win a DVD of Ella the Elephant
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/videoseries?list=PL7Eup7JXScZz_ZAyJKN2XMIdAVp-n3iCW" frameborder="0"] Join Ella the Elephant and her kindhearted friends in this all-new animated series from Disney Junior featuring 8 charming episodes. Elephant Island is home to many

posted 3:37:58pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Kellie Pickler Joins the Veggie Tales in Beauty and the Beet
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_h9mcbvBvE0[/youtube] Country star Kellie Pickler joins the cast in "Beauty and the Beet," from the Veggie Tales folks, coming out October 14, 2014. (With a name like that, it was just a question of time!) BEAUTY AND THE BEET, a brand-new VeggieTales mus

posted 3:30:42pm Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: Baby Got Class
A great video for Back to School from the hilarious Holderness family! [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/s56-Ta35JRk?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:33:19am Sep. 15, 2014 | read full post »

James Franco's New Movie Mash-Up Series
James Franco has a new series on AOL Originals. He'll be re-enacting classic movie scenes combined with other classic movie scenes. [iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/cNkFIwas0rk?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 3:59:52pm Sep. 14, 2014 | read full post »

Trailer: Paper Planes
Coming in 2015, "Paper Planes" stars Sam Worthington ("Avatar"). [youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h00GHmlFjCs[/youtube]

posted 8:00:37am Sep. 14, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.