Ruby Sparks

Paul Dano plays a lonely young novelist whose lone literary success is already ten years behind him. Suffering from writer's block, he acts on the advice of his therapist (an underused Elliot Gould – hard to believe now that Gould was a huge star in the '70s) and starts writing a description of his dream girl. Then one morning, he finds that his dream girl has literally come to life, in the form of one Ruby Sparks (Zoe Kazan).

The film, directed by the husband-wife team behind Little Miss Sunshine, deftly handles this magic realism, helping us willingly suspend our disbelief just as Dano's character (as well as his obnoxious brother, played by the never-quite-likable actor Chris Messina) does.

If this movie had been written by a man, it probably would have been far less interesting. But the screenplay is by Kazan herself, and it's clear that she's set out to examine the "manic pixie dream girl" stereotype so prevalent in indie movies, and the kind of men who write them. Because Ruby – who has no idea that she's a literary creation – was created as a headstrong and artistic young woman, and turns out to be difficult to handle for her meek, control freakish boyfriend.

As Kazan and Dano are a real-life couple, there are times when it's hard not to see Ruby Sparks as just a showcase for their acting talents. (At least they're talented!) And Kazan's script, while well-written, is just a wee bit heavy-handed at times. But it's a fresh, interesting movie, and will likely develop a cult following amongst bright teenagers and geeky twentysomethings. I'd recommend the film to them, and to anyone else.