An emotional evocation of early-60s America simplicity as seen through the eyes of kids gives Flipped a certain resonance and appeal. Add a nonstop golden oldies soundtrack, quaint design and costumes along with a sure handed director and Flipped becomes somewhat of a joy to sit through.
The title specifically refers to the way the narrative unfolds. We first see a sequence through the eyes of Bryce (Callan McAuliffe), a handsome enough lad who’s too content to hide behind his mother’s apron. Then the film literally flips and we see the same events through the perspective of Julie (Madeline Carroll), Bryce’s neighbor and herself a strong-willed if not downright rambunctious lass.
The main thrust of the story is to see love through the eyes of a child. The two leads are explored in depth while their respective parents, quite interesting in their habits, are rather one-dimensional. Julie expresses her feeling to Bryce only to have them rejected. A couple of years pass and now Bryce, perhaps a bit wiser and still not old enough to shave, finds that he can’t get Julie out of his mind. But Julie has other things to conquer. One particular scene in the school library, again seen from two points of view, rewards the viewer with the concept being fully realized. In the first run through we see Bryce being puss-whipped by one of his friends, which results in him dissing Julie. Next, we witness Julie observing the same scene from a row away, hidden by her height and an array of books. The moment is heartbreaking and cuts to the core of what Flipped wants to communicate.
If Flipped occasionally veers into pure sentiment the tone stays consistent. For instance, at one point it’s revealed that one of the parents supports a retarded brother in an expensive sanitarium, and when we come to the scene where Julie and her father go to visit said brother the film takes a somber but never depressing stance.
Flipped makes a return to form for Rob Reiner. His last few films were not up to par with the films of the director of The Princess Bride or This is Spinal Tap! Flipped certainly doesn’t stand on the same shelf as those films but does exude a kind of second-tier worthiness. Whatever the results of Flipped’s limited theatrical release it’s a wise enough family oriented film to insure potential cult interest.
– Michael Bergeron