Generally favorable reviews - based on 40 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 71 Ratings

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  • Starring: , , ,
  • Summary: Calvin is a young novelist who achieved phenomenal success early in his career but is now struggling with his writing – as well as his romantic life. Finally, he makes a breakthrough and creates a character named Ruby who inspires him. When Calvin finds Ruby, in the flesh, sitting on his couch about a week later, he is completely flabbergasted that his words have turned into a living, breathing person. (Fox Searchlight) Expand
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 40
  2. Negative: 1 out of 40
  1. Reviewed by: Katie Walsh
    Jul 23, 2012
    Ruby Sparks hits that sweet emotional spot much in the same way "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" does. While you are at once charmed by the whimsy and romance, there's still a gut punch of emotional rawness just waiting to be delivered.
  2. Reviewed by: James Berardinelli
    Jul 24, 2012
    Parts of Ruby Sparks are glowing and gentle. Others are harsh. Still others are wrenching. The transitions are expertly handled, never seeming jarring or inappropriate. If the movie feels like two shorter pieces grafted at the middle, that's an intentional decision. The filmmakers give us something approaching a traditional romantic comedy before deconstructing it.
  3. Reviewed by: James Mottram
    Oct 1, 2012
    Smart, literate and romantic, it's this year's (500) Days Of Summer, but with a few more shadows. Like Calvin, you'll find it hard to resist Ms Sparks.
  4. Reviewed by: Mick LaSalle
    Jul 25, 2012
    A movie about the power of the imagination really becomes a movie about a certain element of surrender - about the release of power - that is practically a requirement for loving somebody.
  5. Reviewed by: Betsy Sharkey
    Jul 25, 2012
    There is a great deal of playfulness between the couple that will touch the romantic in most.
  6. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Aug 9, 2012
    The best stuff comes early in Ruby Sparks, which was written by Kazan (granddaughter of Elia) and directed by the husband and wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine).
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Jul 24, 2012
    The script is breezy, but neither of the two leads have the heft or charm to carry an entire feature-length film - separately or together.

See all 40 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 21 out of 21
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 21
  3. Negative: 0 out of 21
  1. Aug 10, 2012
    Likely won't receive Oscar attention, but this film deserves it. Kazan's script tears apart the unrealistic male fantasy of the manic pixie dream girl by bringing the cliche to life in an offbeat, yet dark, comedy with interesting messages about the nature of adult relationships. There may not be a better script in all of 2012. Expand
  2. Sep 9, 2012
    I'll show you bona fide loving. 106 minutes of love, learning, and magic. Love story that will touch the soul and stimulate the mind. Love is real and sometimes things don't need an explanation, rhyme, or reason. Highs and lows, dark times and elation. This movie will take you through the true roller coaster of life and love. Expand
  3. Oct 4, 2013
    It's often easy to get lost in another reality when putting pen to paper or fingers to buttons, writing can be a release, a way to escape from reality, Zoe Kazan writes and stars in this interesting piece about Ruby Sparks, who at first glance is the figment of a young writers imagination. Calvin (Paul Dano) is the writer in question, a once successful prodigy who now struggles with writing or conceiving anything new, we are reminded of those who hit their stride early in life, but cannot cope with the expectations or hype that is laid upon them. But we all draw inspiration from often the most peculiar of ways, Calvin dreams about this perfect girl Ruby, who he then creates on paper. His new found joy is soon turned to shock when Ruby is standing in his kitchen one morning eating cereal. The film approaches its narrative from a repressive nature of everything Calvin wanted in not just a girlfriend, but a companion, Ruby and Calvin share an overwhelmingly positive beginning to their relationship, the chemistry that Dano and Kazan share is what makes it much more quirky and enjoyable, we don't really know much about Ruby, other than her actual existence being questionable, it's fine that Calvin's brother Harry (Chris Messina) can see her, but it still throws many questions into the air, especially the one where he can make this girl do anything with his words, which makes for some humorous moments but also emotional despair for young Calvin, who begins to lose the one thing he has complete control over. Kazan proves her talent don't lie entirely in front of the camera, providing a fresh and energetic look at a recognisable story of characters coming to life, while also exploring how limitless the imagination can be, but outlining the dangers of losing a grip on reality. Paul Dano deserves recognition in the highest regard for his performance, his character is nervous and secluded from everyone, seeing a therapist regularly while also staring at a blank white page in the hope that something will come to mind, we see this once in the film but can assume that this is a regular occurrence, but when Ruby comes along he sees his problems disappear, but a heartfelt ending which has great intentions, makes me wonder if it will happen all over again. Certainly a film that throws many questions at the viewer, but also one with plenty of laughs, great performances and great depth in its delivery. Expand
  4. Aug 28, 2012
    A pleasant surprise where intelligence was used instead of violence to satisfy the film goer. I rated this an 8 because it was genuine and original. Although it played off some films and their themes I have seen in the past, it was such a refreshing change from the onslaught of violence that I was so relieved. This will definitely make my top ten films list. I enjoyed the fact that there were several layers to it as well. The writer and the writers power to control his character wes interesting. How he handled all of of that with out killing her like every other movie I have seen lately. A great and pleasant surprise.. Collapse
  5. Mar 9, 2013
    This is a good film but not ''great''. Its an interesting idea and it comes off well .I give it a 7.5 and i'm kind if reluctant to give it 8 as opposed to a 7 but will. Expand
  6. Oct 26, 2012
    This is a weird movie. It challenges perceptions and it really leaves you wondering if its all is really happening, and as it turns out, the movie doesn't even handle you the answers. Part of it being so great though, aside from the great acting, is its message. Everyone at some point has dreamed and conceived their perfect couple, in this case the perfect girlfriend, but the thing is, that their really isn't. There is no such thing as a perfect human being. The perfect human being is a creation of the imagination, a depended of our mind, one that because of that doesn't really love you. That is this movie in a nutshell, but it is how it plays with that concept that ultimately as weird as it undoubtedly is, manages to bizarrely stick in your mind for a long while. That at least, is what the movie left on me. Expand
  7. Sep 21, 2012
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Meant as a pointed rebuke against the putative quintessence of women in contemporary film(both sides of the divide), the screenwriter, a female one, as a sort of excerpt from a corrective manifesto, says that "quirky, messy women aren't real," in which she uses Harry, the novelist's brother, as her voice, in a scene where he reads Calvin's manuscript about such a non-woman("You wrote a girl," he adds.), that addresses the trend of infantilizing women. Ruby is just one more waif, another suppositious female asservated from a patriarchal fantasy. Harry tells him, "You don't know jacks*it about women." With this observation, Harry encapsulates the bane of the genre, the romantic comedy, as a whole. A film such as Life as We Know It, a rom-com about godparents who are suddenly bequeathed their mutual friends' baby after a fatal car crash, makes you want to scream along with Mila Kunis, when she vociferates loudly, "Shut up, Katherine Heigl, you stupid liar!" in Friends with Benefits. Heigl's character acts like a child. Womanhood seems to have escaped her. Smiling wildly, despite the gravity of the moment, Holly could be thirteen when the lawyer reads the conditions of the will. On the indie front, Zooey Deschanel, known for her hyper-adorability, which can be sometimes ingratiating, sometimes affected, starred, appropriately enough, in both All the Real Girls, and Flakes. In Ruby Sparks, Harry advises Calvin to write about Lila, the last woman he dated. Calvin, however, is more savvy than he lets on; he doesn't need a lecture; he knows "women are different up close," and that they can be "mean as f*ck," but the former "voice of his generation" shies away from dealing with his ex, choosing instead to write about a servile and uncomplicated girl, the perfect type for a "hey, we're falling in love" montage. Quite knowingly, the screenwriter employs "Ca plane pour moi" to score the genre's requisite compendium of blissed-out moments of mutual affinity(the courting ritual abridged by quick cuts) shared between the young lovers as a means to foreground the latent artifice that belies the romance. Recorded by Plastic Bertrand, the name "Plastic" adeptly communicates the idea of a fake relationship. At a party, Calvin bumps into Lila, who as it turns out, is also a writer, a soon-to-be-published one, which may account for their break-up, since the viewer can make the reasonable presumption that the female novelist was thriving in her craft, while the once-celebrated author found himself being surpassed by his protege, a simultaneity worsened by his miring in a bout of protracted writer's block. "It's weird having two writers," Frank tells his older brother, concerning their parents in The Squid and the Whale, a concept that obviously weirded out Calvin, as well, not wanting to be washed-up like Bernard Berkman, an alpha male, who has a hard time handling his wife's upcoming novel being excerpted in The New Yorker. Both men are narcissistic bastards. "Yeah, well, dad influenced her. She never wrote before she met him," responds Walt, and likewise, Calvin, no doubt, introduced Lila to his craft, but at some juncture, it became a competition, as demonstrated in the scene where Bernard hits his wife, hard, on the shoulder with a ball swung intended to maim, in a contentious game of tennis. Implying as much, the rivalry that exists among writers, Lila says, "Of course not, you're a genius." Good shot. A parting shot. Not surprisingly, the genius makes Ruby a painter(a woman whose interpretation of Calvin would differ from Lila's jaded eye), and when the manuscript is finished, or rather, the finished product, Ruby, materializes in the kitchen, eating a bowl of Crisp-ex, he locks the novel away in his desk. This is where Ruby Sparks goes Charlie Kaufman-lite. As any published writer knows, once a book goes to market, it belongs to the public. But here, it's not the text that's held up for interpretation, it's a person, a character unknowingly estranged from her invented realm where she was fictitious. In a sense, people are reading Ruby, and each person perceives her differently, thereby changing the original meaning of the girl in ways that the author never intended. Ruby is made real through interpolation. Literally, the girl leaps off the page and takes on a life of her own, emphasis on "her own". She's leaving him. Out of desperation, the author rewrites her, turning the increasingly self-perpetuating girl into a codependent. In one scene, Ruby stops walking when Calvin lets go of her hand to answer his cell, stranding the girl on the other side of a busy intersection. She can't move forward without Calvin's assistance, since the writer retracted her life into a story, a plot. His hand is a pencil. The plot stops. He writes her steps. In Stranger than Fiction, the professor tells Harold to do nothing. Like Karen Eiffel, he controls her fate. Expand

See all 21 User Reviews


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