Based on the YA novel of the same name, “Flipped” is the latest movie by director Rob Reiner (“Stand By Me”, “Misery”, “The Bucket List”). To briefly sum up this film, it is a nostalgia inducing romantic comedy about a pair of pre-teens. The even more briefly sum up this film, it is award bait.
When Juli Baker (played first by Morgan Lily, then by Madeline Carroll) first sees Bryce Loski (Ryan Ketzner, then Callan McAuliffe) and his family moving in across the street from her, she knows that he is destined to be her first kiss. Bryce views this same event quite differently, knowing that his new neighbor is destined to be a pain in his ass.
The story is told in a He Said, She Said format. After showing a series of events from one character's point of view things will then flip to show the same series of events from the other side, and the two versions of events may not necessarily exactly match (Bryce and Juli's first meeting is the best example of this) since we are dealing with potentially unreliable narrators.
Rounding out the core cast are Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller, and Aidan Quinn giving the film a strong, if not stellar class, stable of actors. At first they all seem like fairly shallow stereotypes of 1960's America, but as the story progresses the actors do a great job of showing their character's flaws, strengths, joys, and regrets. There is no resolution to any of these potential subplots, which is not something you see in many movies even if the book was that way, but it works here. It gives the movie almost an Adrian Mole kind of feel for me; that some things that happen are just things that happen. Not every small thing has to be foreshadowing to something greater down the road, and that gives the movie more of a real life feel. Life rarely wraps everything up neat and tidy in less than an hour and a half.
This kind of story telling would make a lesser movie feel too long, but “Flipped” feels a bit short if anything, coming in at under ninety minutes, even with all of the extra details that have no impact on the plot. I did walk out at the end of the movie wanting more, but that has more to do with the film's ending rather than its run time.
One of the most refreshing things about this movie is what makes it different from other, what I will call, Nostalgiacore films: there is no obvious political element to this movie. There's nothing in this about wars or civil rights. In fact the only even remotely political thing involves cutting down a tree. Sure there are a few things in it that would not be appropriate today (some sexism, for example), but they're not in the film to make us feel like we've come a long way; they're just there because they should be.
A reoccurring theme in “Flipped” is that people are more, or less, than the sum of their parts. The more I think about that, the more I realize that it applies to the film itself There's nothing spectacular here, the script is good, the acting is competent, the soundtrack is what you would expect from a film set in the sixties; it's all good, but none of it is really above average. However the film itself manages to somehow be better than just average; everything fits together just right to create an end product that is worthy of the award nominations it is looking for.
Aside from a couple of curse words (appropriate in context) “Flipped” is a good movie for the whole family to enjoy together. It's cheerful, sweet, and touching without being too syrupy. There are no explosions, no shootouts, no glittering vampires, or breathtaking CGI. There's just a solid film with a lot of heart. Not necessarily a must-see-in-theaters kind of movie, but certainly one you should see. “Flipped” hits theaters on August sixth.