I know what you're thinking:
"Ruby Sparks? Wait, isn't it that Stranger Than Fiction rom-com knockoff?"
Yes, yes it is.
Complete with white people problems and lots of 'em!
Right off the bat, Ruby Sparks is every Woody Allen/Nora Ephron rom-com you've ever seen: shrinks, stereotypical neurotic writers, cookie hippie relatives... It's good, don't get me wrong, but you've seen it all before. Same goes for the movie's surreal "hook" involving Zoe Kazan's Sparks, a fictional character written by Paul Dano's writer Calvin, who inexplicably comes to life one morning. What follows is a rollercoaster ride of emotions and forced quirkiness which finally develops into a kind of 500 Days Of Summer meets Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind-type bittersweet tale of the impact relationships have on us and how we screw them up, basically.
It's cute, it's sweet, it's all-over-the-place, it's heartbreaking, all the good stuff.
From the directors of fab indie hit Little Miss Sunshine, Ruby Sparks isn't the kind of rom-com you'd expect to really stand out seeing as it's so derivative and all. And yet, by the end you still find yourself pretty invested in these jerks on screen and at the end of the day, if a rom-com has managed to somehow make you care about its own douchebags: mission accomplished. Zoe Kazan is a lot of fun as Sparks and does really well to make that seemingly one-dimensional character feel real. Sure she's the product of a purely male writer's imagination (literally), but as she becomes more her own person she becomes more volatile and imperfect (human, essentially) so by the end you find yourself not really knowing who to root for. Both have their pretty undignified moments but you really do feel like both cliched characters have finally evolved into a real couple of troubled, adorable, messy people you really do want to see end up together.
The film does go for a happy ending but it really was touch-and-go there for a while because a good rom-com wouldn't be anything without it's depressing as f*** second act! Oh it's made as fun as possible with top cameos from the likes of Steve Coogan, Antonio Banderas, Annette Bening, Aasif Mandvi and Elliott Gould but it's not all lols, Ruby Sparks is as indie as can be but still keeps a bit of a dark, uncomfortable edge. It's not quite the life-affirming ride Little Miss Sunshine was but you do come out of it feeling like you went through something kinda special so it's definitely worth a look.
Besides, Paul Dano's great. He should be in everything. And he pretty much is...
No real fireworks for the movie then but sparks?