Cute but no cigar: “Ruby Sparks”

August 14, 2012

ImageThe indie comedy-drama “Ruby Sparks” has some nice moments, some good laughs and some great performances. But the film never quite delivers on its too-familiar premise, and in the end commits the cardinal sin of movie-making: It tells you how to feel.

The film’s central conceit sounds like something out of a freshman creative writing class. Novelist Calvin Weir-Fields (Paul Dano) is a 20-something boy wonder whose first book was a runaway literary sensation.

Suffering from a debilitating case of writer’s block, Calvin takes the advice of his shrink (Elliott Gould) and begins to write about the girl of his dreams, whom he names Ruby Sparks.

The next morning, Ruby (budding star Zoe Kazan, who also wrote the script) simply appears in his kitchen, making eggs.

Understandably, Calvin proceeds to freak directly out. This is maybe the movie’s funniest sequence as Dano, with his long-limbed gawkiness, delivers some terrific physical comedy, literally bouncing off the walls before folding himself under his desk.

Ruby is a dream girl, all right – beautiful and bright and funny. She’s also quite real. Paul has somehow written his perfect girlfriend into existence, complete with her own memories and back story.

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