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: ***

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