Ruby Sparks—the latest film from husband-and-wife directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris—is about Calvin (Paul Dano), a twenty-something writer struggling to produce a follow-up to his first novel, which he wrote in his teens and became a bestseller.
In an attempt to overcome his writer’s block, Calvin sees a therapist (Elliot Gould), who gives him an assignment to write about his ideal woman. Calvin dreams up a 26-year-old artist named Ruby (Zoe Kazan), who is redheaded, bright and outspoken. The more Calvin writes about her, the more real she becomes, until one morning, when he wakes up and finds a very real Ruby, half-dressed and nonchalantly eating cereal, in his kitchen.
The film’s storyline is reminiscent of the Greek myth Pygmalion, or even Weird Science (one of our favorite movies, for all the wrong reasons). But comparisons to the 1980s science-fiction flick stop there—where Wyatt and Gary create Lisa, a supervixen willing to fulfill their every fantasy, Calvin’s Ruby is a quirky and fully realized character, which means she is not perfect. And when Calvin vows to never write about her again, she becomes individualistic and temperamental, and it’s these aspects of her personality, the parts he did not write, which allow him to understand what it really means to love someone else.
Overall, Ruby Sparks is funny and smart—a rarity in the romantic-comedy subgenre—and despite its imaginative concept, the film succeeds in feeling genuine and delivering an important message about relationships and independence.
You can make Ruby real here. (Just try not to give her knee shooters, you little maniacs.)