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ruby sparks
Click for full sized poster

Ruby Sparks

Starring Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Steve Coogan, Elliott Gould, Chris Messina and Deborah Ann Wol
Screenplay by Zoe Kazan
Directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris

IN SHORT: The perfect date movie all of a sudden becomes a real film! [Rated . R for language including some sexual references,, and for some drug use. 140 minutes]

As we move through yet another season of movies about men in capes, or women in capes who want to beat up men in capes or men in capes who deep down inside want to actually be women in capes, fanboy critics like yours Cranky feel like rolling up into little spandex clad balls and hiding in those rare theater seats where you can't see or hear anything; where the golden stuff that now passes for butter glues us to floors which haven't been watched enough. We pry ourselves off the floor and, every once in a while, marvel that one of the small, exclusive screening rooms where the smallest of the small movies are screened for critics and those connected to said critics are so jammed full that extra seats are put into the room to handle the over flow.

It is a rare day in review-land when such things happen. Three hours earlier, in the same room, all of six critics showed for a french film. Now, with the sun down, the freaks come out to play and we get to see Ruby Sparks. It would have been a coincidental alignment of the stars in the heavens and the nether powers of rock 'n' roll witchcraft if we had seen the film on a Tuesday -- if that requires explanation, ask your parents -- but it wasn't. What began as a little nothing of a film did a one-eighty- out of nowhere and became slam bang totally perfect dateflick. Until it became a serious movie, complete with all the emotional crap and plot surprises that tend to stuff films that we won't see until November.

In the world of words controlled by the once successful novelist, and still shlubby Calvin, there exists a magical machine -- the last of its kind. It is called a "typewriter." The characters created by Calvin on its pages have delighted children and young adults of the female kind in a series of short stories and one small novel. Calvin's publisher wants a full length novel as his next effort and said publisher wants it, like, three weeks before yesterday. Calvin tells his publisher that it, the new masterwork, is coming along just fine.

In reality, Calvin just stares at the blank sheet of paper clamped to the roller of the mechanical typewriting device machine. Nothing comes to mind so Calvin takes his dog, Scottie, out for a walk in the park. There he meets a young lady who draws a beautiful portrait of the pup. Calvin has found his Muse, and she is called Ruby. The pages come blasting out of his typewriter as if written by a djinni. There is no question about it, Calvin must find this woman again. He commits his needs to paper and, wouldja just know it? the next morning the gal has moved in and is making breakfast for the young author.

The genre is called "Be careful what you wish for" and, after all, Calvin wished for a whole lot of things: a successful novel, a girl who may be The One, and so forth. Now that he has achieved all he has wanted; Now that he has proved to himself that the girl is fiction made reality -- you'll have to see it to believe it -- what is he going to do? He must test his creation. He consults with his much better looking brother for help with this. Then there is the almost imposible challenge: taking Ruby to meet Calvin's parents (Annettte Benning and Antonio Banderas) as the "new girlfriend" up in their Big Sur estate. It is just a short sequence in the film but it will blow your mind.

Still, there is the fictional Book of Ruby -- the one that is sitting in the typewriter -- that needs to be completed. What do you suppose happens if the book concludes with the termination of the fictional star's story line. [We're speculating. Calvin earlier locked the novel in a desk drawer, cuz you don't screw with a good thing . . . only later will we truly know if Calvin is Master of his Domain (so to speak) or if something else is going on.

If something else is going on, well, we're well into the Third Act by then and yours Cranky never spill what happens in the Third Act.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Ruby Sparks, he would have paid . . .


It begins as a story of a shlub. It metamorphs into a dateflick beyond our wildest dreams. It wraps as a true film and each shift is seamless and a joy to experience.

amazon com link Click to buy films by Jonathan Dayton
Click to buy films by Valerie Faris
Click to buy films starring Antonio Banderas
Click to buy films starring Annette Bening

The Cranky Critic website is Copyright © 1995  -  2017  by Chuck Schwartz. Articles by Paul Fischer are Copyright © 1999 - 2006 Paul Fischer. All images, unless otherwise noted, are property of,©, ®, their respective studios and are used by permission. All Rights Reserved. Not to be used or copied for any commercial purpose. Academy Award(s) and Oscar®(s) are registered trademarks and service marks of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.