In addition to skyrocketing to the the top half of my list of this year's most overlooked and underrated movies, director and co-writer Rob Reiner's heartfelt Flipped also managed to set a new high quality standard for family films in what is easily Reiner's strongest behind-the-lens release of the century.
Likewise, Flipped achieved an amazing feat for cinematic storytellers working in period settings in a movie that drew frequent comparisons to Reiner's coming-of-age baby boomer breakthrough dramedy Stand By Me.
Yet even though Flipped does touch on some mature issues including economic hardships, class conflicts, disability and parental regret, it's an altogether sweeter PG-rated serving than the guardian required R-rated Stand.
And although it quickly evolves into a new spin on the old premise of boy meets girl, Flipped begins innocuously enough as a straightforward “first awkward love story” when Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) moves into the house across the street from adorable but relentless Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll).
However, instead of relying on the safe marriage of early '60s American Bandstand hits and static, warm-tinged cinematography, Reiner shows respect for his young audience by illustrating differences in background, perspective, and the separate hormonal roller coasters embarked on by his main characters.
Reveling in the complexity of contradictory feelings and issues of timing, we experience the movie visually from the eyes and audibly through the children's narrated thoughts via one-at-a-time interpretations of key events that occur in their changing relationship over the course of a few years.
Reiner's bold adaptation of Wendelin Van Draanen's book drives home the vital lesson that not only are there at least two sides to every story but that it's impossible to fully understand the other person's “side” of the story without taking a few steps in their shoes. Winner of the Heartland Truly Moving Picture Award, this multi-generational crowd-pleasing sleeper reaffirms Rob Reiner's role as an actor's director.
The young cast members are backed up every step of the way by Anthony Edwards as a bitter father, John Mahoney as a grandfather widower who feels that Bryce's relationship with the girl across the street may echo the one he'd shared with his deceased true love, along with fine turns by Penelope Ann Miller, Aidan Quinn and Rebecca DeMornay.
Sentimental without being syrupy -- while overall it's the ingenious structure that keeps things fresh -- Flipped uses the feel of nostalgic wholesomeness in a way that doesn't neglect the importance of a strong foundation in plot and character to appeal to contemporary children.
Flipped, which can also be dubbed (500) Days of Summer for the younger set or My Girl minus the tragedy, is far more tender and thoughtful than a majority of the year's widely publicized, dumbed down kid-centric features that emphasize crass over class.
A refreshingly honest and timelessly relatable tale of boy meets girl and all of the highs, lows, misunderstandings and memorable lessons that go along with it, Warner Brothers' overlooked 2010 feature is one that's well-deserving of your attention on disc in 2011.
Text ©2010, Film Intuition, LLC; All Rights Reserved. http://www.filmintuition.com Unauthorized Reproduction or Publication Elsewhere is Strictly Prohibited and in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.