The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

September 14, 2012

Film has a spark of truth among the laughs

Friday, September 14, 2012 — For those of you who are old enough to remember the classic television series “M*A*S*H,” I am fond of quoting dialogue from that show. There was an episode during the series’ eighth season that contained a conversation between Margaret Houlihan and Hawkeye Pierce.

The two of them are lamenting the fact that they cannot seem to find a meaningful relationship. Hawkeye, after a moment of thought, finally says, “Maybe you and I are just too choosy. We’re both looking for a custom fit in an off-the-rack world.”

That has always been one of my favorite lines from the series because I think it so accurately describes many people I know, including myself.  

The new romantic comedy “Ruby Sparks” deals with this same dilemma, first in very comical ways and finally in a very serious and emotionally brutal climax, but I will get back to that in a moment.

“Ruby Sparks” is a fantasy film. (Rated R largely because of language.) You must buy into the fantastical premise or the movie will mean nothing to you. Like “The Odd Life of Timothy Green,” which is also still in theaters, “Ruby Sparks” uses an unbelievable story to reveal great essential truths. For “Odd Life” these truths are about parenting; in “Ruby Sparks” these truths concern relationships.

The premise of the story is that a young man has had early success as a writer. In fact he published his first novel at 19. He was greeted with both commercial and critical success that was followed by writer’s block.

The young man, Calvin, tries but he can no longer write. His publisher, his brother, and his counselor all try to inspire and encourage him, but nothing seems to work. Then one day he begins to write about a young woman named Ruby.

The more Calvin writes, the more details he adds, the more real the young woman named “Ruby Sparks” becomes in his mind. Then one day, she appears in his kitchen. Calvin believes at first that he is having a breakdown. He believes he has lost his grasp on reality and is now hallucinating, seeing a character from his writing. Then he discovers that others see her, too. Calvin can control Ruby. He can make her do anything, say anything (in any language), and be whatever he decides he needs her to be. Calvin Weir-Fields can now have, to use Hawkeye’s words, “a custom fit in an off-the-rack world.”

I liked “Ruby Sparks.” I liked the humor of the film. I liked the premise of the film. I liked the pacing of the film and I especially enjoyed the casting of the two leads. Paul Dano continues to pick one compelling project after another: “Little Miss Sunshine,” “There Will Be Blood,” even the strange but fun “Cowboys & Aliens.”

His role in this film seems to be his most mature and yet most desperate. I have not seen as much of the work of Zoe Kazen but her performance as the title character should make her a star. Ruby is beautiful, interesting, passionate and independent, all the things a young man might write about if he were creating his dream girl. Kazen pulls off all of those emotions and much more and ultimately anchors this fantasy in reality.

In the final analysis, it is not the comedy or fantasy that consumes 90 percent of the film that makes it something special. It is the climax and the resolution that happen in the last 15 minutes or so. I was having so much fun with the premise that I had not even stopped to wonder where the film was taking me. The last few minutes are jarring and harsh, not in a violent way, but emotionally. But they are also real, and very, very meaningful.  

“A custom fit in an off-the-rack world” is a fantasy. However, when Calvin says to his brother, “It’s Love. It’s Magic.” I believe that speaks to a reality most of us seek.         

 

1
Text Only
Opinion & Letters to the Editor
  • Jason O. Boyd I may be a bit behind the times, but at least I can find ‘America’

    I seem to be reading about and dealing with technology a lot lately.
    I  love technology and have always been fascinated by gadgets of all kinds and the wonderful things they can do. You never seem to go through an entire day without some form of invention enhancing your life.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Brent Laurenz Meeting out in open helps negotiations move ahead

    RALEIGH – State lawmakers reconvened in Raleigh on May 14 promising a brief legislative session this summer, but as July moves along they are still in town and tackling big issues.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Larry's Sketch 7.16.14.tif They don’t give a darn for Duke University

    John “Duke” Wayne’s heirs are suing Duke University over trademark rights.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Your chocolate addiction is only going to get more expensive

    WASHINGTON - For nearly two years, cocoa prices have been on the rise. Finally, that's affecting the price you pay for a bar of chocolate - and there's reason to believe it's only the beginning.

    July 18, 2014

  • Patrick Gannon Don’t forget the losers in state lottery

    RALEIGH – Behind every state lottery dollar that goes to education is a loser.
    There’s also a winner – the teacher whose salary it pays, the student who gets a scholarship or the district where a new school gets built. But we hear about the winners in advertisements and in press releases.
    This column is about the losers.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hodgepodge Cooling an overheated hedgehog and other summer travel stories

    Anybody with a pet during the summer inevitably finds themselves facing this question: What do I do with my pet on vacation?
    There are kennels for dogs, day cares for cats. Shoot, you can even find a friend to take care of your guinea pig.
    But what do you do with a hedgehog?

    July 18, 2014 2 Photos

  • North Carolina Boasts Top Wildlife Magazine and A Success Story

    The following opinion piece was released by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission:

    RALEIGH  — When Wildlife in North Carolina, the magazine published by the N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, was named recently as the nation’s best in its category, it reflected more than accolades as a quality publication.

    July 17, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    CHICAGO - A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • 25 hidden secrets in "Weird Al's" "Word Crimes" video

    Yankovic's 14th album was released this week, and it warms my heart containers that he's kept up his geeky brand of humor for so long. While he has written so many incredible songs, none have spoken to my love of proper grammar.
    Until "Word Crimes."

    July 16, 2014

  • 90-plus welcome to birthday party 

    The Stanly County Senior Center will host our eighth annual 90+ Birthday Party for all Stanly County residents who are 90 years or greater. This event will be held at the Senior Center on July 30 at 2 p.m. The theme this year is “An Afternoon with Old Blue Eyes.”

    July 16, 2014

House Ads
Seasonal Content