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Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks

4.7 3
Director: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Cast: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan


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A young author creates a character based on his dream girl, and gets the surprise of his life when she turns out to be real. Celebrated novelist Calvin (Paul Dano) used to be the darling of the literary scene; now he's wondering if he'll ever actually write another book. His inspiration at an all-time low, Calvin creates Ruby


A young author creates a character based on his dream girl, and gets the surprise of his life when she turns out to be real. Celebrated novelist Calvin (Paul Dano) used to be the darling of the literary scene; now he's wondering if he'll ever actually write another book. His inspiration at an all-time low, Calvin creates Ruby (screenwriter/co-star Zoe Kazan) and the ideas start flowing. A week later, when Ruby shows up in Calvin's apartment completely smitten, the lonely writer begins to fear he's losing his mind. Elliott Gould, Chris Messina, and Annette Bening also star.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Perry Seibert
Seemingly from the minute film critic Nathan Rabin coined the phrase Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) in 2007 to describe Kirsten Dunst's character in Elizabethtown and Natalie Portman's part in Garden State, the terminology became ubiquitous. Ruby Sparks, the new film from the directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, tackles this particular archetype head-on. According to Rabin, "The Manic Pixie Dream Girl exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures." He goes on to argue that they are either immediately beguiling to audience members, or gratingly annoying. The premise of Ruby Sparks is that creatively blocked young novelist Calvin (Paul Dano), who can't follow-up the critical and commercial success of his debut novel, begins dreaming about the perfect girl, Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan -- also the movie's screenwriter). He becomes overwhelmed by his dream, and -- spurred on by his therapist (Elliott Gould) -- begins writing about her. Unexpectedly, this seemingly perfect young woman materializes one morning in Calvin's home, ready to cook him breakfast, do everything with him, and basically be a selfless, wacky muse 24/7. Calvin at first assumes he's losing his mind, but he quickly ascertains she's actually there, and soon he discovers that he can control her entirely because she immediately takes on whatever emotional or mental state that he writes for her. While his closest confident (Chris Messina) pushes him to give Ruby bigger breasts and various kinks, Calvin instead tries to make both his dream-girl-come-to-life as well as himself happy, and in doing so finds out how difficult it is to be with someone who is nothing more than a puppet. The movie is, among other things, exceedingly well-cast. Dano's face has a boyishness that hints at his character's basic immaturity, but his eyes have a dark soulfulness that's quick to register pain or anger -- he often brings to mind Harold and Maude-era Bud Cort. He's particularly excellent in a scene where at a party he meets the ex-girlfriend who broke his heart, and gets into one final fight with her. Messina gets most of the best laugh lines, and knows that he doesn't have to push too hard when you're the only person getting to say outrageous things. Gould's engaged interactions with Calvin make him the therapist anyone would wish they had. Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas, as Calvin's mother and stepfather, make a lasting impression from just one scene in the film, and Steve Coogan lends his patented brand of sour insincerity to the role of Calvin's friend and fellow writer. As good as they are, this is Kazan's movie. It's hard to find fault with her work here as an actress. She walks that MPDG line of annoying and ideal with fearlessness, and the best part is, because her screenplay makes sure we understand that Ruby behaves exactly how Calvin wants her to, we get frustrated with him instead of her. It's a brilliant conceit that forces viewers to reassess how we feel about characters like this, and allows the actress to go to extremes without overacting. The writing is so sharply observed that the story works both as a portrait of an artist as an emotionally immature young man as well as a post-modern essay about MPDGs and the men who create them, but the script does have an annoying tendency to make the same dramatic point over and over again. They economically establish that Ruby's behavior changes whenever Calvin types more about her, but deep into the movie there are scenes that belabor this point -- he writes that she should never be sad and we are treated to numerous moments of Ruby being ceaselessly adorable. He pens that she is deeply attached to him, and what follows are repetitive scenes where she clings to him like a wounded puppy. Even with the draggy pacing, though, the actors and the central idea are so good that Dayton and Faris never lose us completely. With their debut, Little Miss Sunshine, they proved capable of juggling an ensemble cast while delivering a quirky, humanistic comedy. Ruby Sparks doesn't have quite as broad an appeal, but it does show that the filmmaking duo can tell an effective story that goes deep into a single character.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Fox Searchlight
Region Code:

Special Features

Behind the story; Real-life couples: co-stars & directors; Be careful what you wish for; Getting to know the cast; Los Angeles: the other character

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Dano Calvin Weir-Fields
Zoe Kazan Ruby Sparks
Elliott Gould Dr. Rosenthal
Chris Messina Harry
Annette Bening Gertrude
Antonio Banderas Mort
Steve Coogan Langdon Tharp
Alia Shawkat Mabel
Aasif Mandvi Cyrus Modi
Toni Trucks Susie
Deborah Ann Woll Lila
Jane Anne Thomas Saskia
John F. Beach Adam
Eleanor Seigler Mandi
Emma Julia Jacobs Party Goer at Langdon's
Wallace Langham Warren
Rightor Doyle Party Goer 1 - Hammer
Eden Brolin Party Goer 2 - Hammer
Michael Silverblatt Michael Silverblatt
Mary Jo Deschanel Female Professor
Kai Lennox Sort of Weird Guy
Ole Olofson Older Dude
Jack Levinson Party Goer 2 - Book Release
China Shavers Party Goer 1 - Book Release
Casey Genton Busboy
Michael Berry Silverlake Passerby
Lindsay Fishkin Box Office Teller
Claudia Bestor Lecture Curator
Oscar Scotty the Dog

Technical Credits
Jonathan Dayton Director
Valerie Faris Director
Justine Baddeley Casting
Judy Becker Production Designer
Albert Berger Producer
Kimberly Davis-Wagner Casting
Robert Graf Executive Producer
Zoe Kazan Executive Producer,Screenwriter
T.K. Knowles Associate Producer
Matthew J. Libatique Cinematographer
Pamela Martin Editor
John O'Grady Associate Producer
Paul Dano Executive Producer
Chuck Ryant Associate Producer
Thomas Patrick Smith Asst. Director
Nancy Steiner Costumes/Costume Designer
Edward Tise Sound Mixer
Nick Urata Score Composer
Alexander Wei Art Director
Dan Wilcox Musical Direction/Supervision
Ron Yerxa Producer


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Ruby Sparks 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ruby Sparks is one of the most uplifting, fun movies I've seen in a long, long time.  Charming, cleverly written and totally enjoyable...left me smiling..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago