Based on a novel by Wendelin Van Draanen and directed by Rob Reiner (“Stand by Me”, “When Harry Met Sally”, “A Few Good Men”), “Flipped” could very well be another addition to the director’s vault of timeless stories. Unlike the present-day novel, the film is set in the late 50’s to early 60’s. The plot revolves around the youthful, on/off love shared by Juli Baker and Bryce Loski (newcomers Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe). Juli, as most young girls do, becomes instantly infatuated with Bryce as soon as he moves in next door. Bryce, as most young boys do, thinks girls are gross. Fast-forward to middle school, and as Juli’s feelings dissipate, Bryce’s interest flourishes. The two are never on the same page, and the pleasant predictability comes from knowing that, in this type of story, they soon will be.
While “Flipped” has a rather familiar story, there are a couple of extraneous and exhausting subplots that seem to do nothing more than take up precious screen time. One involves a sycamore tree that Juli likes to climb, which is at risk of being torn down as an eyesore to the community. Then there is a diversion about Juli’s fascination with harvesting and distributing eggs, which adds little to the goodwill the film builds.
What is unique and captivating about “Flipped” is the style in which it was filmed and edited. The film often moves back and forth between elementary and middle school years, as well as replaying scenes in a he said/she said manner as the characters narrate their respective points of view. In doing so, we find they are on completely opposite ends of the friendship spectrum, which can be amusing. “Flipped” also utilizes a sepia filter and a continuous soundtrack of golden oldies to accentuate flashbacks. For the casual listener, these cover versions will suffice, but classic audiophiles may find them a disappointment.
In addition to being a carefree, family film, “Flipped” does touch on some topical, real-life issues such as class stereotypes, treatment of the mentally handicapped, coping with financial hardships and the importance of spending enough quality time with your family. It is an all-around wholesome film, with nothing cringe-worthy other than a close-up shot of a snake eating an egg. With a cast of familiar faces (Anthony Edwards, Rebecca DeMornay, Penelope Ann Miller, Aidan Quinn, John Mahoney) and a charming, enchanting story, “Flipped” is no flop. It guarantees to be a crowd pleaser for young and old alike.