"Flipped" Review — 5 out of 5 Stars
Wed, 25 Aug 2010 16:10:47
Flipped isn't so much a love story as it is a life story.
Over a short period of time, the film examines the lives of two very different characters with equal attention, care and devotion, and that's where the real greatness of this movie lies. Very few modern flicks can effectively elicit an emotional response from one character's point of view; Flipped manages to do so from two angles. Director Rob Reiner presents two sides of the same story while preserving the integrity of both. He also happens to do so with both humor and heart intact.
Set in the early 1960's and adapted from Wendelin Van Draanen's fantastic novel of the same name, the film examines growing up like no movie of its kind has—and perhaps ever will. More than anything, Flipped is about self-discovery and the journey to self-actualization. Madeline Carroll's Juli Baker doesn't have much work to do in that department. At 12-years-old she's got more of a sense of self than most people three times her age. She's got convictions, a distinct sense of right and wrong and a genuine purity that's undeniable. She's also madly in love with Bryce Loski [Callan McAuliffe] who won't give her the time of day. From the moment Bryce moves across the street, Juli's smitten. She "flips" for him, and that's it.
Bryce wants nothing to do with her though, and that's where things get interesting. Flipped is broken up by each of their narratives so every significant situation is told by both characters. There's one scene that essentially defines Juli and Bryce though, and it's by far the most powerful in the film.
Juli spends a ton of time hanging out at the top of this sycamore tree in their neighborhood. She loves the tree because "you can see the whole world" from the top. Reiner outlines the character's independence artfully early on in the film, showing her sitting alone and spending time watching her father paint instead of busying herself with pre-teen gossip. Juli doesn't fit in, but she's cool with it and in turn the audience can fall in love with her spirit seamlessly. Juli climbs the tree every morning to watch the sunrise and enjoy the general beauty of her surroundings. One morning she's sitting at the top of the Sycamore and a bunch of construction workers show up to cut it down. She won't move though. Bryce is at the bus stop at the foot of the tree, and she calls out to him to join her. He doesn't, but she holds her place.
The scene is so poetic for a few reasons. Juli loves this tree and she doesn't want to see it destroyed. She's willing to put herself in danger to save it, and that kind of backbone is always inspiring. It's heart-wrenching, when she yells for Bryce to help through tears and he won't. The other reason the scene will be noted as a classic is because Madeline Carroll's performance packs such a punch. She's screaming and crying and she won't budge, but it never feels forced from the young actresses. The line between reality and fiction becomes blurred, and it's almost as if Madeline's own life depends upon the tree. That's not only the mark of a great actress; it's the mark of a real artist. She devoutly becomes Juli, and it's impossible not to feel something when she's clutching that Sycamore trunk.
Juli's got this inspiring sense of self fostered by loving parents Richard [Aidan Quinn] and Trina [Penelope Ann Miller], while Bryce is essentially lost. When Reiner shows the tree situation from Bryce's perspective, he announces that he feels bad for Juli, but he's not willing to help out. Of course Juli doesn't want to believe he's a coward, but he is. Nonetheless, Callan plays him sympathetically and genuinely. He's been shaped by his own home situation as well and many times is acting out his father's feelings about the Baker family. There are subtleties to Callan's acting that shine through the actor brilliantly. His grandfather Chet, the ever-phenomenal John Mahoney, shares some incredible moments with him.
Inspired by Juli fighting for her tree, Chet tells Bryce that some people are "iridescent" and Juli is one of them. Callan's eyes show a slow awakening at this point, and it's a turning point in the film where he starts to realize the importance of developing his own self separate from what's shaped him. He and Mahoney's walk through the neighborhood at night is a catalyst and another wonderful little scene that works perfectly.
There are a myriad of moments like this in the film, and it's a big reason why the movie resonates so much. Rob Reiner has crafted a genuine masterpiece that combines a heartwarming and often hilarious storyline with a thought-provoking sensitivity. Jokes aren't lost in this landscape. Take Bryce's sarcastic voiceovers or Juli getting mad while feeding her chickens; they're quick vignettes that cause sharp laughs.
Reiner also doesn't shy away from exploring a darker side of this world. He presents a heartbreaking scene with Juli's mentally challenged uncle that's just as potent as the tree sequence and there are scenes of domestic disarray that bubble over with real tension. It's a life movie again, and it embraces everything—good and bad.
In the end, "Magical" is the only way to aptly describe Flipped. Flipped is the most endearing, engaging and enchanting film of 2010. It's funny at all the right moments and ultimately unforgettable. Madeline Carroll is bound to become a massive star from this poignant and poetic performance.
It's one of those movies that everyone can identify with, but it's one of those movies that might just inspire a little good in a world that so desperately needs it. We can thank Juli Baker for those life lessons…
— Rick Florino
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Check out the video below and don't miss Flipped when it hits theaters on August 6th (limited) and wide on August 27th. You really don't want to miss it!
For more Flipped check out Cody Horn's playlist, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller & Rebecca De Mornay's playlist and Madeline Carroll's Playlist:!
Be sure to visit the official Flipped Facebook Page tomorrow August 26 at 7pm EST / 4pm PST to ask Rob and Madeline questions! Check out more info here!