By Gary Murray
Starring Madeline Carroll, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards and John Mahoney
Written by Rob Reiner
Directed by Rob Reiner
Running time 90 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Rob Reiner has made some of my favorite movies. This is Spinal Tap, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally and The Bucket List are just a few of his accomplishments as a director. He has captured the imagination with strong storytelling and technical expertise. His latest is Flipped.
The story of Flipped takes place within six years during the 1950's. Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) is kid recently moved into the suburban neighborhood. Bryce soon meets the girl next door Juli (Madeline Carroll) who instantly falls for madly for him. He tries in vain to avoid her, but her young girl crush just takes a toll on him, embarrassing him with his new friends. Then the film turns to Juli and her explanations of the events. Yes, Juli does fall for our young Bryce, but things are not that cut and clear. We also meet the parents and the siblings of both sides of the street.
The film goes into junior high and Juli still feels for Bryce and Bryce still thinks that Juli is another girl. Slowly things begin to happen internally and Bryce begins to see Juli as something special. Juli, in the turning into a young woman, begins to see a bigger picture than what can be seen on the upper branches of her favorite tree. As she begins to understand the wider aspects of life around her, her attitude toward Bryce changes. So in lies the Flipped aspect of the movie. Along the way, we also find out why the adult characters are the way they are, full of shattered dreams and promises fulfilled. Nothing is as it seems on the surface and the truth lies somewhere in the middle.
Except for a few details, the production nails every part of the 1950's The sets, costumes and cars are all perfect. There is a solid feeling of place and time in Flipped, giving the right vibe for the actors to perform.
Young Madeline Carroll is note perfect as Juli, the young girl next door who begins to see life beyond her little neck of the woods. She has the soul of a artist and the heart of an activist, all just waiting to prove her worth to the world. She is the kind of character that becomes an element of change in the 1960's. Her caring for a tree, a plot point, just tugs at the heart.
John Mahoney plays Bryce's grandfather and delivers a strong sense of melancholy to the role. He sees all the potential in Juli and tries to open Bryce's eyes to the jewel that waits just across the street. There is such a warmth to the reading, something that Mahoney has been giving his characters for years.
There are some weak performances in Flipped starting with Anthony Edwards. His portrayal of the dad just comes across as one dimensional. He has just a single beat of being the realist, the man who sees everything in static black and white. As he shapes Bryce in his own image, it becomes a waste of hope. Callan McAuliffe just gives a weak reading, never capturing the subtle aspects of the character
Once again Rob Reiner captures perfect elements in Flipped making the production as warm as grandma's blanket on a winter's night. He delivers such a loving touch to the pace of the movie, finding the soft moments and milking them for all they are worth. The film follows a pattern used in the film He Said, She Said but it does it in a much more effective manner.
Flipped is a fine little picture, full of heart and grace. It tells a universal tale but still keeps it fresh. While not legendary filmmaking, it is a nice comfortable diversion.