Starring: Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, Penelope Ann Miller
Directed by: Rob Reiner (“Stand by Me”)
Written by: Rob Reiner (“This is Spinal Tap”) and Andrew Scheinman (“North”)
No matter how undeservingly popular his last film “The Bucket List” was with audiences, it’s safe to say director Rob Reiner has been in a major rut since the early 90s. Racking up mediocre movies like “The Story of Us,” “Alex & Emma,” and “Rumor Has It,” Reiner has been working on autopilot for about the last 15 years.
At the pinnacle of his career in the 80s, Reiner was a fantastic storyteller who redefined true love and friendship into highly memorable cinematic achievements like “Stand by Me,” “The Princess Bride,” and “When Harry Met Sally.” In “Flipped,” Reiner returns to familiar territory, but simply can’t capture the same magical moments of his undisputed classics.
It’s fairly easy to pinpoint the narrative problems throughout “Flipped,” which, like “Stand by Me,” is a coming-of-age film sent in the 50s. Reiner co-wrote the script (the first since 1984’s “This is Spinal Tap”) along with longtime collaborating producer Andrew Scheinman, who is also credited for writing one of Reiner’s weakest movies (“North”).
In the film, Madeline Carroll (“Swing Vote”) plays Juli Baker, a junior high teenager who has been in love with the same boy since the second grade. But Bryce Loski (Callen McAuliffe) has never shown an interest in her. As they get older Juli’s puppy love becomes more of an annoyance than anything for Bryce especially since they live across the street from each other. The differences in their family’s social status also factors into problems as the years pass. Juli lives a more homely lifestyle with her mother and father (Penelope Ann Miller and Aidan Quinn) while Bryce’s parents (Anthony Edwards and Rebecca De Mornay) like to keep up appearances but can’t seem to run a very emotionally-stable household.
Based on a novel by Wendelin Van Draanen, “Flipped” follows the same basic blueprint of its text. The innocent love story is told from both Juli and Bryce’s perspective, which means scenes are played out twice from different camera angles. The technique doesn’t do much to progress the narrative, which ultimately relies on its nostalgia to create any genuine emotion.
In the end, “Flipped” feels like a contemporary take on an episode of “Father Knows Best” or “Leave it to Beaver” without the charm. Saturated in wholesomeness and uninteresting narration from both lead characters, watching “Flipped” only makes you long even more for Reiner’s glory days.