True to the fashion of American Dreams and The Wonder Years, famous film director Rob Reiner presents “Flipped” to the world. Reiner is best known among young adult audiences for classic feel-good offerings such as Stand by Me and The Princess Bride in the 1980’s. He casts his magic touch again in this work of art about the wonder of first love.
It is 1957 and seven-year-old Bryce Loski moves into a new neighbourhood. The first person he sees, and vice versa, is a girl of the same age named Julianna Baker. Juli, as she likes to be called, comes off too aggressive for Bryce’s liking, even embarrassing him on the first day of school by giving him a big hug in front of the class. Juli has fallen in love with Bryce at first sight but Bryce tries to avoid his smitten neighbor like the plague.
This cat-and-mouse chase continues for six years and now the two protagonists are in 7th grade. It is 1963 and Juli’s infatuation of Bryce has only intensified. To ward off Juli’s romantic hopes and dreams, Bryce pretends to find the most popular girl in class, Shelly Stalls, amorous. Bryce’s plan seems to work as seeing him with another girl annoys Juli to no end. However, that is just the beginning of Bryce’s problems with Juli.
Rob Reiner first became inspired by “Flipped” when his 11-year-old son, Nick, brought home a book with the same title by Wendellin Van Draanen. Ironically, the book is set in contemporary times. Stripping the original text of the fast-pace aid of technology, the filmmaker began co-writing a screenplay that takes us back to when he was an adolescent, a time he knew best to fall in love, and somehow has given the movie a timeless and innocent feel.
The two lead actors are nothing short of gold. Madeline Caroll, who plays Juli Baker flawlessly, is a veteran with several film and television credits under her belt. Julianna is a strong-willed, determined character, quite mature for her tender age. Caroll has said in an interview that she is quite “undecided” as a person. Seeing her shine on the screen will make the viewer think otherwise.
One wouldn’t presume that the actor playing Bryce Loski is Australian. Callan McAuliffe, who has done most of his acting in his native country, has a dead-pan Midwestern American accent. Aside from that outstanding skill, he has that natural heartthrob charm that girls will find Juli’s infatuation with him to be totally relatable. His performance is effortless, giving justice to Bryce’s character without being ego-centric or trying too hard to be the good guy in the end.
The alternate points of view give the film its unique earnest appeal. The transitions melt seamlessly into one another. While most kids nowadays may not be able to appreciate the quaint production sets and the gelled-up, hair-sprayed coifs right away, they will find that the sentiments and the feelings are the same. It will even make grown-ups recall their first-ever crushes, that one person who induced those early feelings of extreme elation. It is very heart-warming to look into Bryce’s and Juli’s individual insights about the circumstances in their lives, which are happening simultaneously or separate from each other. The switching back-and-forth of perspectives is fluid and impeccable, enabling us to ride along the young characters towards their evolution. This is the true mark of Rob Reiner’s genius in portraying the differences between boys and girls with such distinction and ease.
It is 90 minutes of pure, wholesome enchantment, set in a quiet suburban town where kids play in the playground and ride bikes in the afternoons. A story about a feisty, stubborn girl who fights for what she believes in such as attempting to single-handedly save a sycamore tree and failing miserably at it and the cute boy across the street who cannot figure her out and finally is able to, only she has changed her mind about him. The stellar cast isn’t too shabby either. With the likes of Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Cody Horn and Aidan Quinn among others driving the winsome plot with a lot of heart and honesty, this film cannot go wrong.
The movie title has such a funny play on the film’s dynamics... and it couldn’t be more appropriate. Flipped can mean doing a somersault and a joyous dance; a reverse of fate or state of affairs; or it can be synonymous to going completely insane. Either way, anyone will flip for this movie, guaranteed.
I know I have. ^_^