During the recent heatwave, my daughter and I had a movie marathon day. It started with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, Part II, followed by The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. I had started the morning catching the tail half of Gasland 2. Needless to say, most of the morning was spent crying – first at reailty, then at fiction, and then at fictionalized reality. Life was unfair, cruel and unjust. WHEW. Downer. (Let’s not even get started on analyzing WHY my 12 year old daughter wanted to watch The Boy in the Striped Pajamas – that was her request!)
Needless to say, we needed something light and refreshing after that heavy load of human funk we’d wallowed in – allowing the oppressiveness of the outside heat to seep into our air-conditioned souls. Enter Ruby Sparks.
My good friend stumbled upon this movie and LOVED it, so on her recommendation we decided to wind down our day of sad with this flick. It’s a romantic comedy about a neurotic self-involved young author (Paul Dano, of Little Miss Sunshine) who isn’t able to meet the right girl. His therapist encourages him to “write about” his perfect mate, which he tries. And sunddenly, odd things start to happen. Random lady products appear in his bathroom, a red sexy bra appears, a loney red wedge. He tells his therapist that he’s having so much fun writing about this girl, that he thinks he’s falling in love with her. His therapist (Elliot Gould) asks, so what, and Calvin (Dano), replies, “Because she’s not real! She’s a product of my FUCKING IMAGINATION”). He says he can’t wait to write, because it’s like he can’t wait to see her again, so he goes home and writes a scene where a fully fleshed out Ruby (Zoe Kazan) tells Calvin he’s really not her type – she usually likes guys who are “strong” (and Calvin isn’t). She recounts a past boy friend who told her she wasn’t funny, but fun, since she got his jakes, and that didn’t sit right with her. Then she says, “I guess I’ve just been waiting for you”. And they jump into a pool with their clothes on, and she tells Calvin she’ll love him forever.
Calvin awakes to the ringing of a phone. He’s fallen asleep over his typewriter. As he runs downstairs to run out the door for a meeting with his agent, a FULLY REALIZED Ruby, steps out of his kitchen and offers to cook him breakfast. Calvin assumes the worst, and figures he’s totally lost his mind. But nope, he eventually finds others can see her – that he’s created this woman from his own mind. More poignancy and hillarity ensues from this point, as Calvin realizes his writing controls Ruby and as Ruby becomes a person, with her own needs and wishes.
We enjoyed the film. It was written by Kazan, who is Dano’s girlfriend in real life. It was charming and funny, without being overly saccharine or trite. My daughter’s response to the movie tickled me. After the first 20 minutes, she jumped up and ran over to get some paper to start writing. I loved seeing how the film totally stoked her own creativity. Good fun. If you haven’t seen it, give it a whirl. Annette Bening plays their mom, and Antonio Banderas has a wonderful role as Bennning’s kooky, furniture building, chainsaw wielding lover.