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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Flipped Managed to Turn Me the Right Way


Flipped: 3 1/2 out of 5 Stars

So it occurred to me the other day that Rob Reiner, with the exception of North, had directed a string of very good to great movies up to the mid 90s. After that, he seemed to have lost his way a bit. I am glad to say that this new film of his is a solid coming of age story and a nice throwback to the “coming of age story” genre in general. Adapted from the 2001 young adult novel of the same title, this film is a lean, nicely paced, teen romance story that works well at being entertaining.
Bryce: In school, the only thing I totally flunked out in, was understanding girls.
Set in the 1960’s, the plot centers on two middle school kids, Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) and Juli (Madeline Carroll), who have lived across the street from each other since Bryce moved in when they were six years old. Ever since then, Juli has been head over heels for Bryce, only to be met with no shared feelings from Bryce’s side. As the two enter the 8th grade, new feelings start to develop, as Juli starts to look beyond the dreaminess she used to see in Bryce’s eyes, while Bryce starts to realize what has been in front of him the whole time. The film is shot from the perspective of both characters, flipping back and forth between the shared moments they have together, as well as delving more into their own personal lives. The film also costars Anthony Edwards and Rebecca De Mornay as Bryce’s parents, with John Mahoney as his grandfather, as well as Aidan Quinn and Penelope Ann Miller as Juli’s parents.

I really appreciated the design of this film. It’s very simply done. For a Rob Reiner film, I could tell that he was working with a lower budget this time around, as the film didn’t need much beyond capturing the feel of 60s suburban life. The main approach to the filmmaking present here was the shifting perspectives, which worked as a solid way to round out each of these characters. The voice over narration never felt overbearing, and the whole tone of the film felt very much like a classic Reiner film from the 80s.

The performances were fine. I enjoyed the child actors’ work here. Since the idea was to create a believable chemistry between two people who are in and out of having feelings for one another, I found them to work well together. The parents all did good work here, with Edwards serving as a man who is quite mean regarding Juli’s family, but has some subtle development later on in the film. Then you have Quinn as Juli’s father who manages to say a number of right things at the right time. Mahoney is given the role of wise elder, but manages to do solid work with it.

I found it interesting in the way this film relied on simplicity. Besides the art direction, which was good enough at capturing the 60s in terms of how characters dress, the cars and house designs, as well as the soundtrack, this film really only used a few sets and some backdrops. Beyond that there were only a few subplots, but nothing that ever needed to push things into further turmoil. Because of this, the film only clocked in a briskly paced 90 minutes, but felt like that was all the time needed. The parents could have been fleshed out a bit more, but really that would have only slowed the film down and taken away from the main story involving our young leads.

As I haven’t read the book it was based on, from what I could tell, being seated with a younger audience, it would seem that this film managed to maintain its spirit. From my perspective, I too had a good time watching this film. It’s a simple coming of age tale that has a nice spin on the formula by showing us both sides.
Chet: Every once in a while, you find someone who is…iridescent, and when you do, nothing will ever compare.
3 ½ out of 5 Stars

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