MOVIE: *1/2 (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: **1/2 (out of 5)
Paul Dano as CALVIN WEIR-FIELDS
Zoe Kazan as RUBY SPARKS
Chris Messina as HARRY
Annette Bening as GERTRUDE
Antonio Banderas as MORT
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Directed by: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris
BY KEVIN CARR
Wouldn’t it be great to create the perfect woman? You’d think so, at least. However, if you’re an angst-filled social pariah who doesn’t know what he wants out of life in the first place, that’s not going to be easy, even if you are given the power to do so.
That was my take-away from “Ruby Sparks.” I don’t think that was the point of the film, but that’s what it said to me. Because amid the murky message is a story about a troubled individual who falls in love with his own creation, the painfully cliched manic pixie dreamgirl.
Paul Dano plays Calvin, a young writer who became a literary phenomenon by writing the great American novel when he was only nineteen. The problem is that now he’s pushing 30, and he hasn’t been able to come up with a follow-up piece. Struggling with finding a love life, Calvin writes a character he would consider perfect, a manic pixie dreamgirl named Ruby Sparks. Miraculously, she materializes in his life. When Calvin realizes he has conjured her out of his imagination, things are great for a while, but soon his need for control turns the relationship sour.
My distaste for this movie mostly comes from my distaste for the character of Calvin. I just don’t have any respect for him. He’s the typical neurotic writer we see in so many films, but without the charm that Woody Allen usually spins into him. This film actually reminded me of a similar indie release this year, “Lola Versus.” Not having gone through the angsty relationship overdrama that the main character in either film experiences, I just got quickly irritated with them.
Similarly, Ruby isn’t all that great. She’s a fantasy. I suppose that’s part of the point. However, even as a fantasy girl, she’s not that great. And when Calvin finally takes a shot at playing God with her, it’s such a detestable scene that it’s pretty much impossible to forgive him or offer him any sympathy beyond this.
There’s a certain charm that Zoe Kazan brings to the role, and it’s impressive that she wrote the screenplay. However, this is far too derivative of other angsty independent romances that it failed to keep my attention.
The Blu-ray comes with some decent featurettes, including “Behind the Story,” “Real-Life Couples: Co-stars & Directors,” “Be Careful What You Wish For” and “Getting to Know the Cast.” There’s also the woefully overused angle of making the city a character in a film, “Los Angeles: The Other Character,” but I won’t hold that against this film any more than I hold the film’s other problems against it.