September 28, 2010

Movie Review: Flipped (2010)

flipped Flipped is a movie that has been dealt a great disservice by its advertising campaign and Warner Brothers decision not to release the film wide. I am saddened that this wonderful film will not get the opportunity to win fans over on the big screen and I can only hope that people give it a chance upon its eventual home video release. This is the sort of movie that deserves a shot. Sure, there are other movies that suffer the same fate and worse, but the fact that this was scheduled to go national to have the rug pulled out is just so disappointing.

I understand that Flipped could have proven to be a hard sell to the national audience, but it is so good that it deserved the opportunity. It is a film built on innocence that has such a sweet and harmless disposition that one could potentially be turned off due to its lack of offensive material. This is not a bad thing. The current film climate points the majority of film towards the PG-13 level and the films at the lower end of that spectrum that generally means some off-color humor, language, or violence crammed into an otherwise family-friendly feature. Rob Reiner doesn't play that here and, frankly, it would not fit. The only thing accomplished there would be material detrimental to the overall picture.

It may sound odd to read this, but Flipped is an uncompromising film. It is an experience that feels as if made by someone who completely believed in the material and set out to make it his way and without outside interference. I know, that is usually something said in relation to some manner of extreme horror or other genre film and not to a coming of age tale set fifty-years in the past that does not include any offensive material. Believe me, this is likely as difficult a project to get going as any hardcore gore-fest.


Think about it, Flipped is a straight up PG film that welcomes anyone who gives it a chance that has such a sweet-nature around it that is downright infectious. There is nothing even remotely close to being offensive in this film and nothing to stir up controversy. So, how is this uncompromising? Think about it. No bad language, no violence, no dirty humor, who would watch such a thing? Exactly. Now you're on to something.

Flipped begins in the late 1950's as a family moves into a new neighborhood. Seems like an everyday occurrence, right? Well, that is only the beginning. A young girl, Juli Baker, spots Bryce Loskie as he arrives with his family and move in across the street. This starts a years long pursuit of Bryce by Juli. It is not something that Bryce particularly enjoys.

Skip ahead a few years, the two are now in the 7th grade and there is still a pursuit of sorts going on. Although, as they have gotten older the relationship has grown more complicated. Then you have to factor in their friends, other relationships, and families, don't forget the families.


That is about all you are going to get of the story, you likely get the idea anyway. Some of you may have even had similar experiences in your lives. At the time they may have been unwanted, or seemed commonplace, but this is where the warm memories of youth are born. This has the very real possibility of transporting you back to your youth and those warm memories. Granted I am not old enough to fit this time frame, but I can very easily see myself there, simpler times (of course, I could also just be off my rocker).

While the story may be simple, it is given all of its heart, warmth, and overall high quality in the execution. The story is told in a unique fashion adding a level of freshness that lasts all the way through to the end. We see the story from Bryce Loskie's perspective and then it "flips" and we get the same period of time from Juli Baker's perspective. It is a great technique that adds unique access to information in a different fashion, it shows how the perspective can bend what you know and how you feel. This technique drew me in deeper to the story and closer to the characters.


Technique, as good as it may be, can only take you so far. The performances take it to the next level by hitting all the right notes. Madeline Carroll and  Callan McAuliffe play Juli and Bryce for the bulk of the film  and feel perfectly at home in these roles, exhibiting a developing chemistry and charisma that is perfect for the story. Yes, the supporting cast is very good as well, but one stands out among the others. John Mahoney (Frasier) plays Bryce's grandfather and his arc is touching, heartfelt and adds a lot of heft to the emotional weight of the film.

Simply put, Rob Reiner and co-screenwriter Andrew Scheinman have crafted a beautiful slice of life film. It captures a different era on film, shows us the simpler times are not always simple, just different. Flipped is the sort of sweet, welcoming film that we do not get as often as we may need. While it is sweet and innocent, it does not shy away from a few darker moments, different pieces of life that make up the whole that is on the screen. Do yourself a favor, make the time to see this. You will not be disappointed.

Highly Recommended.

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