Film Review: Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks, on paper should be a good film. It should be a sweet, simple and funny teenage romantic comedy. But it misses the mark so much, you have to actually wonder if they bothered to take the shot at all! As a film, it just doesn’t work, it just feels sour and confused.

The underlying story. The foundation for the whole film is pure and simply, nothing new. Everything is almost cringe worthily borrowed from much, much better source materials. It is essentially Stranger than Fiction meets A Street Car Named Desire. Now it’s easy to argue that when it comes to films around mental health, and the isolation and destruction of perceived reality, A Street Car Named Desire, whether in film, on stage or dressed up as Blue Jasmine, is setting yourself up to fail but to attempt to echo the fundamental plot idea of Strange than Fiction, a film that never set the world alight, instead managing to simply carry it’s head held high is far more is intriguing.

Personally, I think Ruby Sparks is the creation of writer, Zoe Kazan’s pure, but simplistic, imagination rather than any attempt to borrow, steal, or copy other works. I truly think she sat there, dreamt up a fun idea for a story and started writing. It’s just a shame she was beaten to the punchline by people with more imagination and clarity.

Paul Dano - Ruby Sparks

Accepting that, I am going to side step the huge gaping plot holes and fundamental questions surrounding how a typewriter turns magic and creates, controls and commands the life of an another. The reason I’m happy to ignore this huge issue is because, for me, there is an even bigger one. The reaction of those “in the know”. They just brush it off, accept that the wizardry born from words on a page is nothing more than a normal, everyday occurrence. Granted, I’m glad the movie tackles and ignores the “give her huge tits” adolescence immaturity that will instantly appear in the minds of some watching. But it never tackles it’s bigger issue. You sit there thinking “if this was real, you wouldn’t go ‘yipee my dream girl lets go get ice cream…’ you’d run out the door screaming straight into the arms of the nearest psychologist”.

I also have to mention Steve Coogan. While he has an nothing more than an “in and out” supporting cameo role, he somehow manages to remove all sense of seriousness from the film. It’s very apparently that in recent years he’s been making a conscious transition onto the big screen, but it’s becoming apparent that in an attempt to garnish a reputation for more than simply presenting radio and insulting farmers, to get away from the Alan Partridge persona that had almost taken over his working credentials, he is attempting to play polar opposite roles. While I fully understand why he’s doing it, the problem is, in the same way,his “mid Atlantic” long haired art dealer character failed to fit in What Maisie Knew, his attempt at arrogant, literary promoting, power player in this just feels wrong too. Sadly, he needs to accept that if he wants to escape the pigeon hole of Norfolk FM he needs to go serious, he needs films like Philomena and not throw away roles in poor teenage rom-com.

Steve Coogan - Alan Partridge - Ruby Sparks

Ruby Sparks is never going to set the world alight. It’s a pleasant film, I enjoyed it, I didn’t love it and I spent a lot of time thinking that it’s kindred source material would provide a better evenings viewing, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing going in its favour. Aside from Coogan, it’s cast, while all well known and at times, simply walking through their respective roles in a singular gear, never really appear “superstar”. You really can see that the team behind this film believe in it, good or bad, and that it isn’t just another cynical money making exercise of rolling out the latest Hollywood teenage star in a purely financially driven aim of getting “bums on seats”.

If you haven’t seen Ruby Sparks, I would not bother spending too much time going out of your way to find it and whichever angle you look at the plot from, there are far better film’s available to satisfy an evenings entertainment. But don’t judge it too harshly, because while it’s not great, for the type of film it is, it keeps it head above water. Just.

6 out of 10 stars (6 / 10)

Posted on by 5WC in Film First Edition

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