Welcome back Rob Reiner. It’s been a few stumbling films (The Bucket List and Rumor Has It…) since we have seen the Reiner work with what he does best – small character driven films. Flipped represents a cute, charming film with the heart of Stand By Me (but not quite the depth). In Flipped, he paints a charming canvas of tweens with real emotions, dialogue and drive, and splashes colorful parents to form this cute film.
This coming of age romantic comedy follows the burgeoning lives of Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) and Juli (Madeline Carroll) that smoothly strolls from Grade School to Junior High in a Leave It To Beaver like neighborhood during the 1950s.
Although the feel and look of Flipped bears a striking resemblance to the TV show the Wonder Years, Reiner and co-writer Andrew Scheinman create a marvelously imaginative feel. The dialogue sounds true, the situations appear natural, not forced like so many romantic comedies. And yes, this might be considered a romantic comedy with awkward neighborhood family dinners, potential first kisses and grandfather/grandson talks.
This reserved character driven piece, works by not oversaturating the schmaltz. It deals well in creating smart and awkward character situations that weave through time and space. Reiner provides enough twists and turns, ups and downs to give the film the feel of a real awkward relationship.
Flipped offers nothing fancy. It presents solid actors (mostly parents) notably Anthony Edwards and John Mahoney. For the two young leads Madeline Carroll offers a more dynamic screen presence. But that would be expected because after all girls tend to be more mature at that age, right?
The film tackles not just loves and likes but the belief in fighting for something (like a neighborhood tree) and believing in something (like a chicken egg business) or making a yard more pleasing. If the film does flaw, it would be in the reservations and regrets of the parents that don’t get fully revealed. But then again, the film mostly revolves around Bryce and Juli and what a fun seesaw ride it is.