In a summer filled with action movies, superheroes, adaptations and sequels, Rob Reiner’s new romantic/drama/comedy “Flipped” is a breeze of fresh air.
Based on a popular adult novel by Wendelin Van Draanen, Reiner took the story and moved it from present day into the mid 1950s. Reiner has been in the public eye for many years — successful as an actor, then a director — he has brought us love stories that became classics such as “Stand By Me,” “The Princess Bride” and “When Harry Met Sally.” So can we expect “Flipped” to join the shelf of Rob Reiner’s top love stories?
It’s the late 1950s and Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) and his family move into a new neighborhood. Before the truck is even unpacked a young neighbor Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll) comes over, looks into Bryce’s blue eyes and is instantly hooked on him. Being young, girl-phobic and easily embarrassed, Bryce is scared of young Juli and her outgoing personality. This is the start of what will be a relationship throughout the younger parts of their lives. As they grow up, Bryce is constantly embarrassed and teased at school because Juli is always following him around and pestering him. Not knowing a thing about girls, he just wants her to leave him alone and is constantly trying to come up with ways to get her away from him, even asking out a school rival of hers.
The Bakers and the Loskis are neighbors, but the two families couldn’t be more different. The Loskis are the typical 1950s American family with the way they look, act and live. The Bakers, on the other hand, have a more independent way of thinking — their yards aren’t up to par with the standards of the rest of the neighborhood, and this causes much frustration to Bryce’s father, Steven Loski (Anthony Edwards), and even a bit of animosity towards Juli’s father, Richard Baker (Aidan Quinn). Personalities clash and over a period of six years, as Bryce gets more annoyed by Juli’s different way of thinking and view the world. Juli is hurt by Bryce, again and again, and just when she is beginning to doubt her feeling for him and the nature of his character, he starts to realize there is more to her then he originally thought. Thanks in part to his grandfather Chet (John Mahoney) befriending Juli and helping her out, Bryce comes to see her for the unique and wonderful girl that she is. Can he sort out his true feelings for her before it’s too late?
Reiner delivers a touching story , a tale that will entertain young people while making the adults reminisce about their first love, first kiss, and first heartache. Beautifully shot, the movie definitely has an antique feel to it, but the brilliance of colors throughout make it seem more modern. The whole classic hometown feel of the locations they shot in only added to the feeling of nostalgia. It’s hard to not want to be in that time when you are watching the movie, a simpler time with no technology or distractions.
Although I am only in my mid-20s and was not around in the ’50s or ’60s, the look of the clothes, hairstyles, way of speaking and great classic songs from the period transported me away to another time. It is so easy to get lost in the story that you forget it’s a period movie and you feel like you are right in it. Although the basis of the movie is young love, there are far more complex pieces to it as well, such as poverty, jealousy and looking past the outer shell of a person to family tragedy, loss and redemption. There is a lot to love in this movie and audiences of all ages have tons to enjoy.
One of the pieces of this film I really enjoyed is how Reiner shot and edited it. He goes through major events in the two children’s lives and key events that happened and you get to see it from one person’s perspective, and then they go back and you see it from the other person’s point of view. This really gives you an insight into the minds of boys and girls and how completely different their thought processes are. In my opinion, it shows the emotional maturity of girls far supersedes that of boys. Only in the final seconds of the film do their thoughts finally match up.
“Flipped” is a movie about lessons learned, and perspectives changed. Most of the key characters go through a major change throughout the film. As we mature, we learn to open up our minds and be more receptive to change and be respectful of others feelings. This movie teaches us how easy it is to hurt someone and it is always better to tell the truth. This is really an honest look at a young relationship and has a lot of valuable lessons that it can teach us.
I don’t want to go into many more details about the movie, or its subplots, because you should go see this film. I will say that it’s wonderfully cast and acted, the scenery is beautiful and the heartwarming stories of each child are something to see. It has a great supporting cast of characters — there is a real blend of veteran actors along with some talented newcomers. I think Reiner succeeds in bringing a lovely story to the big screen and it’s too bad in today’s cinema that there aren’t more movies made like this: a slower drama, but with heart. If you liked “My Girl” or “Stand By Me,” then this is a movie for you.
“Flipped” opens Aug. 27 and is rated PG for thematic material and language.
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