'Flipped' (PG)

 

Sweet love story has clever gimmick

flipped image
Callan McAuliffe and Madeline Carroll in the romantic comedy Flipped. (Warner Bros.)
 

By Roger Moore, The Orlando Sentinel

She's mad about the boy. But boys being boys, he doesn't share her enthusiasm. Not at first. She's a tween stalker, if they'd used that word for needy, pushy, too-interested suitors back in the early '60s.

But she has a quality that makes them seem destined to be together. If only he could see that quality. If only he'd start passing those character tests life tosses him. If only he could stop letting her down.

Flipped is Rob Reiner's sad, sly and witty, might-be romance between Julie (Madeline Carroll) and Bryce (Callan McAuliffe), a tale told alternately from each character's point of view. Julie is working her way toward getting "my first kiss." And she's decided it's to be with Bryce. From the instant he moves into her neighborhood, Bryce deals with Julie with "strategic avoidance."

As we see the way each one sees the landmarks in their young suburban lives in the early 1960s, the often-sentimental Reiner (The Bucket List, Stand By Me) ladles out genuine moments of heart and doubt. We sympathize first with Bryce's resistance; then we grasp Julie's growing disappointment at Bryce's rejection and peer-pressured hostility.

Life doesn't have happy endings, and Reiner, who co-wrote this adaptation of a Wendelin Van Draanen novel, never lets us take for granted that Flipped will deliver one. This bittersweet touch makes this unusual film stand out and has helped make it such a challenge for Warner Brothers to market.

The kids are spot-on, with Carroll playing the tougher role. The adults in this world are their parents - uptight Anthony Edwards and Rebecca DeMornay set examples for Bryce, and the struggling but not sweating it Aidan Quinn and Penelope Ann Miller do the same for Julie. The one person who can see past the kids' differences is Bryce's granddad, played with a homey warmth by John Mahoney.

The film is a bit too Wonder Years at times, but the odd two-narrators gimmick plays right into the film's "flip'' in structure. The marvelous uncertainty, doubt and potential for dashed hopes give Flipped its novelty.

Cast: Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, John Mahoney, Aidan Quinn, Rebecca DeMornay, Penelope Ann Miller.

Director: Rob Reiner.

Screenwriters: Rob Reiner, Andrew Scheinman. Based on the novel by Wendelin Van Draanen.

Producers: Alan Greisman, Rob Reiner.

A Warner Bros. release. Running time: 90 minutes. Language and some thematic material. In Miami-Dade: Aventura, Sunset, Grove, South Beach, Paradise Park. In Palm Beach: Shadowood, Palace

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