90 Movies in 90 Days: Flipped (2010)

I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.

Title: Flipped
Release Date: August 6, 2010
Director: Rob Reiner
Production Company: Castle Rock Entertainment

Rob Reiner kicked off his directorial career in the 1980s with a string of instant classics This Is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, and When Harry Met Sally… as well as big hits with Misery and A Few Good Men. His career hit a snag with North in 1994, a movie remembered mostly because of how much Roger Ebert hated it. In the ensuing decades, Reiner’s films have been pretty forgettable if I heard of them at all. Flipped is a movie I’d never heard of when it came out, but it has good reviews on Letterboxd so I’d thought I’d give it a chance.

Set in the early 1960s in suburban Michigan, Flipped is the story of two eight-graders who have been neighbors for several years.  Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll) has always had a crush on Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) while Bryce has always found Juli’s attentions to be annoying.  Over the course of the movie Bryce begins to realize there’s something special about Juli at the same time Juli starts noticing that Bryce is, well, kin of an asshole. Significant events in their relationship are shown from one of their perspectives and then flipped to show the same scene from the other one’s point of view.

The movie is very good at showing believable early teenagers (with age-appropriate actors).  It captures that age when kids begin to recognize their place in a larger world, recognize their parents as humans, and start to define their identities.  The supporting cast is also strong with Rebecca De Mornay and Anthony Edwards as Bryce’s parents and John Mahoney as his grandfather, while Aidan Quinn and Penelope Ann Miller play Juli’s parents.

There’s a lot to love about Flipped, but for some reason the movie has a whole didn’t quite work for me.  The Boomer nostalgia is laid on too thick and it feels like a knock-off of The Wonder YearsFlipped is based on a novel by Wendelin Van Draanen that was set in the 1990s and I think a more contemporary setting would’ve fit the story better. Bryce’s father is too much of an asshole, even Archie Bunker had redeeming qualities.  Meanwhile, John Mahoney’s character is too perfectly nice.  And there’s way too much attention given to spotlight significant moments with the direction, music at al.  In sum, a decent Rob Reiner movie but not one that stands with his earlier work.

Rating: ***

50 Years, 50 Movies (1985): The Breakfast Club

I will turn 50 in November of this year, so my project for 2023 will be to watch and review one movie from each year of my life.  The only qualification is that it has to be a movie I’ve not reviewed previously.


Top Grossing Movies in 1985:

  1. Back to the Future
  2. Rambo: First Blood Part II
  3. Rocky IV
  4. The Color Purple
  5. Out of Africa

Best Picture Oscar Nominees and Winners in 1985:

  • Out of Africa
  • The Color Purple
  • Kiss of the Spider Woman
  • Runaway Train
  • Witness

Other Movies I’ve Reviewed from 1985:

Title: The Breakfast Club
Release Date: February 7, 1985
Director: John Hughes
Production Company:A&M Films | Channel Productions

When you grow up, your heart dies.

The Breakfast Club is the platonic ideal of the 80s Teenage Comedy-Drama Movie. It’s probably the best work from writer/director John Hughes, although Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is still my favorite.  The premise of this film is that five students who never interact at their high school spend the day together in an all-day Saturday detention. Initially they see one another by the stereotypes they’ve been pigeon-holed into – “the Brain” (Brian played by Anthony Michael Hall), “the Athlete” (Andrew played by Emilio Estevez), “the Basket Case” (Allison played by Ally Sheedy), “the Princess” (Claire played by Molly Ringwald), and “the Criminal” (John played by Judd Nelson).  Over the course of the day their shared experience

As has been noted by many critics of this film, its greatness lies in how it captures the way that teenagers actually talk and behave more than your typical Hollywood fare.  It’s also unflinching in depicting the casual cruelty adults inflict upon teenagers, from the bullying of Vice Principal Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) to the characters’ parents.  Judd Nelson dominates the early half of this movie and comes of as a real (and realistic) jerk.  But Nelson’s performance is great in how he shows the character is still a vulnerable kid especially when he’s being tormented by Vernon.  Ally Sheedy hardly even talks in the first half of the film but convincingly transform into the lead protagonist (or maybe antagonist) in the second half.

I relate most to Brian, of course, not only because I was the kid who got good grades but of the awkward attempts he makes at socializing. I totally remember the feeling of connecting with someone one day and then having the person I connected with act like nothing had happened the next time I see them. Kudos to him for calling it out.

I remember seeing this movie as a kid and having mixed feelings about it.  This was partly because I was 11 and it dealt with older kid problems, but also because it was mostly talking instead of silly fun like other teen movies of the time.  Of course, that is why The Breakfast Club holds up so well 40 years later compared to say, Sixteen Candles. There are two things I don’t like about the ending.  One, is that Allison’s makeover betrays both her character and the message of the movie.  Two, the formation of two romantic partnerships – Claire & John and Allison & Andrew – feels abrupt and unlikely.  Other than that, this may be a perfect movie.

Rating: ****1/2