D: Rob Reiner. DP: Thomas Del Ruth. W: Reiner & Andrew Scheinman. Starring: Madeline Caroll/Callan McAuliffe/Rebecca De Mornay/Anthony Edwards/John Mahoney/Penelope Ann Miller/Aidan Quinn/Kevin Weisman/Israel Broussard/Cody Horn/Stefanie Scott/Ashley Taylor/Michael Bolten/Shane Harper. (NOTE: Based on the novel by Wendelin Van Draanen.)
Every now and then a film, which I have nicknamed ‘the darling,’ comes along. Sometimes it is more than this sugary older world name connotes. Sometimes it is just the right amount of smiling sweet and sprinkle of innocence that modern cinema needs.
Flipped has elements that modern cinema desperately needs, but won’t recognize. The film is relievingly age appropriate. Although helped along by its American suburb setting, the film renders the time of growing up when you aren’t quite a young kid anymore, but rather a fledgling testing out its evolving wings in the world.
The film boosts a competent young cast, one that thankfully looks their age. Both Juli (Caroll) and Bryce (McAuliffe) handle their roles with the right amount of innocence, spunk, and confusion that characterizes junior high. (Even more impressive when you read that McAuliffe is Australian and is able to smoothly handle his American accent.) Also clearly supported by the 1963 setting, both young actors are able to draw focus to the story and their progression from bubbling youngsters to anxious pre-teens. The cast is rounded out by unassuming turns from older actors, with the men making the best impression. Aidan Quinn as Juli’s father is s surey the most memorable and parental centerpiece of the film.
Unfortunately, Flipped relies entirely on voice over to tell its story. While the audiences see each scene from different perspectives, they also hear it as both Carroll and McAuliffe narrate parts of the scenes again. Obviously done in an effort to relay feelings and garner a few laughs, the device instead makes the film feel more like story time than a live action movie. Director and writer Reiner is at home in his narrative, but loses some of the natural charm of his film through this voice over. There is hardly any room for spontaneity or a break from the knowledge of the filmmaking medium.
But in times of dwindling romance, when children and teens drop their innocence into a washer like last weeks jean, Flipped is surely a breath of fresh air and just right for the dwindling summer.