So there are romantic comedies, and there are “chick flicks” (a designation for movies I generally loathe) and then there are those bittersweet dramedies that everyone loves and doesn’t mind not being able to categorize (think Juno). But then a funny thing happened at the movies: Zoe Kazan wrote and co-stars in the liltingly charming (there’s really no other way to describe it) new movie, Ruby Sparks, s movie that defies and begs to be categorized.
To be sure, there will be those who see it as this summer’s anecdote to 500 Days of Summer. And those people would probably be right. The story of a man who can’t find love but then ends up falling – and falling hard – for a girl he just can’t seem to get to want him back is a common tragedy. In the new film we have Calvin (played by Paul Dano) who is an uber studious writer who can’t get past the girl who broke his heart. Enter Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan), a semi-wild and semi-free young woman who stands out purely because she blends in so well . . . and because he seems to have written her into existence. (Pause) Or did he? There’s something different about her, but she never quite lets on what exactly it is. That’s for Calvin to find out.
The movie is plotted as a fairly standard series of romantic escapades and misadventures, but the fun of the movie is not in its story. Kazan has created a Zooey Deschanel-esque character who revels in being awkward but who is (I think) fundamentally sad that she will never be the pretty dream girl every boy wants. She wants to be wanted, but only by a man whose world she can conquer. In that sense, this is a “chick flick” with a very masculine sensibility. Imagine Ally McBeal longing for love and actually finding “like” instead and then learning to love that. That’s essentially what we have here.