Already having a well-known coming-of-age story (1986's Stand by Me) on his résumé, 64-year-old director Rob Reiner just doesn't have enough of the early teen romance genre. His latest work "Flipped" once again exhibits his insight into the innocent and fast-changing mentalities of teenage lovers.
"All I ever wanted was for Juli Baker to leave me alone."
Flipped is easily the best love story/relationship movie I've seen since (500) Days of Summer. I'm the kind of guy that you couldn't pay to watch a Nicholas Sparks movie, but that doesn't mean that I can't appreciate a good movie about the highs and lows of love. In a year of formulaic, mind-numbing flicks with no imagination or heart like Letters to Juliet, Flipped is a welcome breath of fresh air.
It's about 8 or so years in the lives of two kids who meet when when one of them moves into a new neighborhood. Juli (played by Morgan Lily and Madeline Carroll) is instantly smitten by Bryce (Ryan Ketzner and Callan McAuliffe) the second she sees him drive up to his new house. Bryce, being a typical second grade boy, finds her attention embarrassing and unwanted. As they get older, that dynamic between them remains pretty much the same, but we wouldn't have a very interesting movie if that's all there was to it. Eventually Bryce finds himself on the other side of the equation (flipped, get it?), and has to win back the girl he never knew he always wanted.
How odd is it that a movie about a couple of kids handles the topic of love in a more mature and genuine way than almost all of the adult-oriented romantic comedies that we're buried under each year? There's no doubt about it that Flipped will make you say "aww" on occasion, but there's a lot more to it than just kids being cute. Humor, issues of class, family conflict, and the lost idealism of youth are introduced into the story by Bryce and Juli's respective families, and there are several outright bittersweet or poignant scenes within the story.
The movie is shown from the POV's of both main characters, and often the same event will be shown from each of their perspectives. It works really well, as it really helps the viewer to "get" both Bryce and Juli. The kids chosen to play the older versions of the two (Carroll and McAuliffe) are both great, the fact that the story is set in 50's or 60's suburbia adds a believable sense of innocence to it all, and there is just a fresh feeling to the movie that I can't really describe with words.
I heartily recommend this to anyone who likes a good, well-written movie, regardless of the genre. You can tell that a lot of heart went into making Flipped, and it shows. Great movie.
Juli and Bryce live across the street from each other, growing up from second grade to junior high. Juli (Madeline Carollloves) flips the moment she meets Bryce (Callan McAuliffe). But Bryce, as snobbish as his bourgeoisie dad, finds every possible way to escape the forthright courtship from Juli, whose family is one notch lower in the economic ladder than his. But the chase is reversed since they enter puberty, although by then Juli no long has the crush on what she calls the boy "with dazzling eyes".
The movie observes the evolving relationship of the two as the director puts on a slew of incidents in school and at home that never involve too much drama and conflict but always leave you feeling warm.
For most of the film, Juli and Bryce take turns narrating the story in scenes that are played twice. The dual perspectives illustrate their budding relationship with depth and understanding in this adolescent battle between the opposite sexes. But the she-said and he-said format becomes a little excessive and predictable after it pops up in almost every encounter between the two. And some of the voice over narration sounds as if it's being spoken by an adult.
Madeline Carollloves, as the spunky Juli, is an adorable actress who radiates glamor and joy. Callan McAuliffes, who plays Bryce, is also likable for his charisma and self-introspection, even though his cowardice and selfishness constantly remind people of his cocky father and of how parents shape their children.
Set in the Michigan suburbia of 1950s, the movie weaves a nostalgia fabric with golden oldies and a sweet small-town life. Although the nostalgia part works less on Chinese viewers only because of cultural difference, this American flick could actually mean more for us. "Flipped" carries a bit of educational function as it shows the ways American parents handle the teen romance that often leads to physical punishments in more traditional Chinese families. Those pangs of true love just hit every one all of a sudden. It comes naturally. A policy of suppression is just again human nature.
On my 1 to 10 movie scale, I give "Flipped" a SEVEN.