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DVD Review: Ruby Sparks

October 30, 2012

Ruby Sparks – A Fox Searchlight Release

DVD Release Date: October 30th, 2012

Rated 14A for violence and coarse language

Running time: 104 minutes

Jonathan Dayton (dir.)

Valerie Faris (dir.)

Zoe Kazan (writer)

Nick Urata (music)

Paul Dano as Calvin Weir-Fields

Zoe Kazan as Ruby Sparks

Chris Messina as Harry

Elliott Gould as Dr. Rosenthal

Our reviews below:


Ruby Sparks DVD Review By John C.

***1/2 (out of 4)

Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) published his first novel at just nineteen, and ten years later is still struggling to write a worthy follow up.  But then he starts writing about a quirky young artist named Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) who first came to him in the form of a dream, and she suddenly appears to him in real life.  Fully expecting to be his girlfriend, she has no recollection of the fact that she seemingly didn’t exist before he started writing.  At first Calvin’s brother Harry (Chris Messina) doesn’t believe him, until they realize that they can control Ruby merely by writing what comes next in the story.  As the brilliantly playful tagline for Ruby Sparks reads, “she’s out of his mind.”  But there are also themes of obsession on display, as the socially awkward young writer finally finds a girlfriend that has to do exactly what he wants.

As Calvin starts feeling compelled to control Ruby, the film becomes a clear metaphor for the entire writing process.  Authors often become attached to their characters to the point of not wanting to let them go.  The more you write about them, the more they become your own creation.  The less you write, the more they begin to slip away from you and take on a personality of their own.  These theories come into play in the brilliant finale of Ruby Sparks, as the film reaches a crescendo that stands proudly alongside the great Being John Malkovich.  With shades of such modern classics as Adaptation and Stranger Than Fiction, Ruby Sparks is guaranteed to be remembered as one of the best movies about the creative writing process.  Please read my full thoughts on Ruby Sparks right here.

The Blu-ray includes several featurettes, including one on directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris as well as Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan who are the real life couples behind the film.


Ruby Sparks DVD Review By Erin V.  

***1/2 (out of 4)

Ruby Sparks is the story of a young writer named Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) who had one book published already and is now struggling to live up to his first work.  He starts to write about a woman whom he names Ruby Sparks, but then starts to have feelings about his creation.  Then, she actually shows up in his apartment.

Ruby (Zoe Kazan) acts exactly like how Calvin wrote her, and looks the same too.  When he writes another sentence, she does what he has written.  His brother Harry (Chris Messina) thinks that he mustn’t waste this – he has created a girlfriend that can be anything he wants.  But Calvin is torn between giving Ruby her freedom and continuing to write.  As the film goes on, the struggle becomes stronger as the longer he doesn’t write the more of her own person Ruby becomes and less like he wants her, but the more he writes the less happy she is.  Some of the scenes near the end are quite interesting as this all comes to a head.  I won’t spoil anything for you here though.

The acting is really good, and the writing quite strong.  For those writers themselves, the premise is very interesting and will probably be enjoyed.  It is definitely an indie film and won’t be for everyone, but I quite enjoyed it and would recommend it now that it’s come out to DVD.  Ruby Sparks is a very well written film about writing and what happens once we ‘release’ our characters into the world so to speak.


Ruby Sparks DVD Review By Nicole

***1/2 (out of 4)

What if you could make up a real person?  This is the premise of Ruby Sparks, an unusual comedy in which a nerdy young writer named Calvin (Paul Dano) writes about a mysterious young woman he has seen in his dreams.  Her name is Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan), and she can do anything Calvin wants her to.  At first, he thinks he is hallucinating, but when his beloved dog Scotty (Oscar) and brother Harry (Chris Messina) confirm her existence, Calvin is thrilled.  But Ruby is slowly becoming her own person, which frustrates Calvin, who then desperately uses his writing to make her his puppet, out of fear of losing her.

This film is quite interesting.  Although the premises is similar to Stranger Than Fiction, a film that came out five years ago, the difference is that Ruby Sparks is a romance and is from the writer’s point of view.  The characters here are quite complex and interesting.  Calvin is a conflicted individual whose controlling behaviour (one could call it abusive) teeters on the edge of madness.  Paul Dano captures this perfectly.  Ruby Sparks is fascinating as a person who is struggling to find her own identity.  Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the screenplay, plays Ruby perfectly.  The irony here is that Zoe Kazan wrote the film with her movie crush Paul Dano in mind and the two are currently dating.

Ruby Sparks is a fascinating look into the human mind, particularly that of a writer.  Anyone who is interested in writing or psychology will be interested in this film.


Ruby Sparks DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

Ruby Sparks is a quirky and intelligent romantic comedy that comes from that often strange place – a writer’s mind.  Actress and writer Zoe Kazan has done a brilliant job creating a story that casts herself in the title role as a creation from another writer’s mind.  The writer in the movie is Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) a young man whose very successful first novel has created the stress of everyone around him expecting an equally brilliant follow up.  Overwhelmed, he curls up on his psychiatrist’s (Elliot Gould) couch desperately looking for advice.  His therapist encourages him to “write what he knows.”  Since Calvin has been having dreams about a pretty red head, he figures that might be a good place to start.  Sitting down at his old school typewriter, he begins to create the girl of his dreams, Ruby Sparks.

Things get strange when one morning Calvin finds a very real Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) eating in his kitchen.  He assumes he’s just hallucinating until his brother Harry (Chris Messina) and Calvin’s little dog Scotty also experience Ruby as a real live girl.  Once Calvin gets used to the idea that he just created his dream girlfriend he uses that power to write her into doing anything he wants.  At first that translates into silly things like making her speak French but eventually when she starts to develop a mind of her own, Calvin uses the power of his written words to manipulate Ruby like a puppet on a string.

Ruby Sparks is charming, funny and fascinating.  Zoe Kazan is a good writer and does a really nice job playing the character she created.  Paul Dano is also really good as a troubled writer.  If you like quirky comedies and find the premise intriguing, chances are you’ll like Ruby Sparks.


Ruby Sparks DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan) is the creation of the nerdy Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano). Despite early success as a novelist, he has been suffering from writer’s block but with the encouragement of his therapist (Elliot Gould), Calvin begins tapping out his next story on a manual typewriter. Suddenly the written character Rudy appears in the flesh and in a relationship with him, to the delight of his brother (Chris Messina) and parents (Annette Bening and Antonio Banderas), though Calvin is awkward at first. Calvin finds that whatever he writes about her comes true, which might seem ideal but soon gets scary, forcing him into a difficult decision.

Most people know that Ruby Sparks was written by Zoe Kazan, who in fact lives with co-star Paul Dano, but this alone does not make them a charming couple on screen. The clever script and excellent acting are also important here, as well as the fact that they are both attractive without looking like photoshopped celebrities, and therefore more accessible to the average person. Finally, directing partners Dayton and Faris provide a fine supporting cast and production, ensuring a satisfying viewing experience, well recommended.


Consensus: With an excellent screenplay by actress Zoe Kazan who stars alongside Paul Dano, Ruby Sparks is a very entertaining film that offers a fascinating look at the creative writing process.  ***1/2 (Out of 4)

One Comment leave one →
  1. Bella permalink
    November 2, 2012 1:20 pm

    This movie sounds incredibly charming and I haven’t really talked to many people that have actually seen it. When I watched the trailer for the movie I was intrigued all over again and I added it to my Blockbuster @ Home queue. The movie should be here in a day or two via mail and I work at DISH so I’m pretty familiar with Blockbuster. It’s really convenient. I love that the main characters have been together in real life and that they have a family. I’m sure that this will make the movie feel more authentic. It will change the dynamic of the film a little.


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