Flipped (2010)

DVD Cover (Warner Brother)
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> Best Films of 2010
Overall Rating 77%
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In 1957, when second-graders Bryce Loski and Julianna "Juli" Baker first meet, Juli knows it's love, but Bryce isn't so sure and tries to avoid Juli. By the sixth grade, in 1961, Bryce tries to get rid of Juli by dating Sherry Stalls, whom Juli despises. However, Bryce's best friend, Garrett, takes an interest in Sherry and eventually tells her the truth about Bryce asking her out; she doesn't take it well. From Juli's perspective, Bryce returned her feelings, but was shy. After finding out Bryce and Sherry broke up, she thought she could have Bryce back. But then they reconsider their decisions as time goes on. In 1962, Bryce's grandfather Chet Duncan moves in with the family. Chet has different views about Juli. There's a large, old sycamore tree that Juli loves which no one else understands. One day, it's cut down by a group of landscapers so a house can be built there, despite Juli's opposition. She becomes very depressed afterwards, as the tree let her see the world in a more enlightened way. Her father gives her a painting of the tree. --IMDb
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: September 20, 2010
Any time I sit down to watch a new Rob Reiner movie, I do so with a substantial amount of trepidation. His track record, of late, has not been as stunning as it once was. I would place Reiner on a list of the greatest directors of all-time any day of the week but with recent films like "Rumor Has It", "Alex and Emma" and "The Story of Us", he has shown us that "North" was not a fluke but, rather, a member of the club. But I try to not let his recent films distract me from his masterworks. This man basically gave me a cinematic childhood. So, from the first moment I saw a trailer for the film "Flipped" I was all smile with a sinking feeling in my heart. Was this going to Reiner at the top of his game, i.e. "Stand By Me" -- or was this going to be Reiner reaching way too hard to re-capture something he might have lost a long, long time ago? These questions I sat down with.

Translating childhood to screen is never an easy task. Reiner is one of the masters. With "Flipped" he manages to do just that...again. The film centers around Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe), a kid growing up in the 1950's in a typical suburban town. From the moment he and his family arrive, he is stalked and harassed by a young girl named Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll). Juli loves Bryce and thinks he is supposed to supply her with her first kiss. Bryce, however, cannot stand Juli and does whatever it takes to avoid her. Over the course of the film, those two characters switch their opinions and then have to find their ways back to the center. The title "Flipped" really refers to the fact that we flip back and forth from points-of-view. We get to witness things from Bryce's perspective and then we get to see what happened according to Juli. As you can imagine, these perspectives are usually quite different and each one offers a different insight into the situation.

The inherent family drama also comes in the form of the parents. Bryce's parents (Anthony Edwards & Rebecca DeMornay) are more buttoned down while Juli's parents (Aidan Quinn & Penelope Ann Miller) are more artistic and liberal in their views. Bryce's dad doesn't like that the Baker's lawn is not kept up and considers is a source of much grief. The only stable adult in the whole film, really, is Bryce's grandfather Chet (John Mahoney) who befriends Juli and encourages his grandson to look at her with more open eyes. There is also an interesting side plot about why Juli's family doesn't have more money that involves an uncle with down syndrome whom they pay for while he lives in an expensive care facility. The film gives the adults just enough to do so we feel that they are no incidental characters just thrown in for the hell of it. They have purposes for being here.

What Reiner excels at here is how he is able to extract such emotionally honest and believable performances from his child actors. McAuliffe and Carroll are just terrific here and they never once come across as actors or kids trying to play kids. They seem very real and very fitting for their roles. Everything Reiner extracts here is just as comparable to what he pulled out of the kids in "Stand By Me". There are some genuinely touching scenes between Bryce and Juli, and while some of what happens here is predictable and you see it coming a mile away, it doesn't take away from your enjoyment of what you're seeing. "Flipped" is a sweet movie about adolescence, first loves and that feeling we all get, at one time or another, of knowing what you want.

The one aspect of the film I questioned was the decision to cast Anthony Edwards in a role that is way beyond what we believe he is capable of, in terms of his character. His character is played as a hard and very cynical guy, but that character takes a turn towards the latter part of the film and it comes as a great shock and it is never really dealt with at all or explained. I didn't buy Edwards during that period of the film and didn't understand what would prompt him to do what he does. Elsewhere, in the adult world, Aidan Quinn once again shows why he is one of the finest actors of our time. He takes a role that could have been disposable and turns it into a real gem. But the real star of the film is John Mahoney. Always a treat on film, he really delivers here as Chet and makes him more three-dimensional than you'd think he would be.

So, basically, I flipped for "Flipped". It had just enough nostalgia and innocence to reel me in and I think Rob Reiner -- with this film and parts of "The Bucket List" -- is starting to find his voice again. We need his type of filmmaking now more than ever and I hope this film is a sign of more great things to come. Check this one out whenever and wherever you can. It won me over in a big way. 9/10.
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