Ruby Sparks: it’s stranger than fiction

Ruby Sparks is as profound as it is funny.

This article first appeared in Farrago (Issue 7, 2012).

Farrago, Issue 7, 2012. Pick one up from Melbourne University.

Our story begins with the clichés: a lucid dream, an empty apartment, and a has-been author battling writer’s block. Yet when it becomes apparent that the homebound and sex-deprived author’s prose has real-life implications, the Will Ferrell alarm bells go into overdrive. Is Ruby Sparks the reincarnation of 2006’s innovative comedy Stranger than Fiction?

The similarities between the two films are palpable. But should one accuse Ruby Sparks of plagiarism, they must also acknowledge the unique creative direction in which the film goes. For a comedy that’s unafraid to distance itself from reality, Ruby Sparks is remarkably profound.

Deja vu?

Our first hero is Calvin (Paul Dano), whose life as a single writer with a pop-culture-infused knowledge of women hits close to home. Unlike your archetype protagonist, Calvin isn’t handsome, nor charming. But he’s human.

The titular character (Zoe Kazan), however, is not. For the best part of the film, she’s absolute perfection, encapsulating every man’s dream woman. The catch is, of course, that she’s not real. She’s literally a character from Calvin’s latest book, who one day shows up in Calvin’s apartment.

As you might expect, what follows delivers many laughs. More significantly though, Ruby Sparks reveals much about relationships, exposing the unrealistic standards of men and women alike.