The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Ruby Sparks | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Ruby Sparks

Directed by: Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris
Starring: Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Annette Bening, Chris Messina, Antonio Banderas, Elliot Gould, Steve Coogan, Deborah Ann Woll

Author Dano conjures up his dream girl Ruby Sparks (Kazan) and finds he can magically control her every whim with his typewriter.
Yes, the plot really is that unoriginal, stealing wholesale from "Stranger Than Fiction", "My Fair Lady", "Mannequin", "Bedtime Stories", "Lars and the Real Girl", "Simone" and most of all "Weird Science". Of course it's all put through a modern indie blender which buys it some respect from critics who would usually scoff at such a trite concept. Let's not kid ourselves, this is an Adam Sandler movie without the fart jokes. Every character feels like they were torn from the pages of someone else's script; Dano's lead is Andrew McCarthy from "Mannequin", Gould's shrink is Dustin Hoffman from "Stranger Than Fiction", the hippy parents played by Bening and Banderas are Hoffman and Streisand from "Meet the Fockers" and Kazan is a thrift shop Audrey Hepburn from "My Fair Lady".
Plagiarism can be fine if you can at least bring something new to the table to accompany your influences. "Ruby Sparks" doesn't. I defy anyone to watch the first thirty minutes and not be able to tell me exactly how the story will play out. We all know our protagonist is going to learn a life lesson and become a better person. A cliched story doesn't necessarily make for a bad movie but this tale is played out in completely charmless fashion. Dano is a despicable character and knowing he'll change at the end doesn't make it any easier to tolerate his presence along the way. John Hughes set "Weird Science" among teenagers as he knew to set it in the world of adults would have made it creepy and misogynistic, which is often how "Ruby Sparks" comes across.
The screenplay is written by Kazan herself, (no self esteem issues there), and she's the real life girlfriend of Dano yet there's zero chemistry between them. Kazan is quite good but I've never been impressed by Dano. Until he gets the title role in the Lionel Messi story I can't see him contributing much to cinema. A character this unlikable requires a much more sympathetic actor. Directors Dayton and Faris were acclaimed by many after their debut movie "Little Miss Sunshine" but it seems the Emperor isn't naked, he's just borrowed someone else's clothes.
Ruby Sparks (2012) on IMDb 7.3/10