Kurt Loder on Ruby Sparks and The Watch


Ruby Sparks is a clever riff on the ancient Pygmalion story. Here, writes Kurt Loder, instead of a sculptor, the protagonist is a blocked writer, whose lonely existence is transformed when the central character in the book he's working on suddenly comes to life. The movie is a glowing fantasy that approaches perfection in its character detail and its unlabored comic style, and in the way in it subtly develops dark themes of creativity and control as the story evolves.

The Watch, on the other hand, is a state-of-the-craft Hollywood comedy product, assembled by pros (Seth Rogen is one of its three writers, director Akiva Schaffer is an SNL veteran) and stocked with certified funnymen (Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill). The plot is high in concept (aliens invade sleepy Midwestern town) and the gags, largely groin-centric, are sometimes very funny. The movie seems intent on being standard summer box-office bait. We'll see about that.