Flipped
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +1

Madeline Carroll (Swing Vote) as Juli, and Callan McAuliffe (Australian TV’s Comedy, Inc.) as Bryce. Rebecca De Mornay (Wedding Crashers) and Anthony Edwards (ER) star as Bryce’s parents, Patsy and Steven Loski, and Emmy Award nominee John Mahoney (Frasier) as his grandfather, Chet Duncan. Penelope Ann Miller (TNT’s Men of a Certain Age) and Emmy Award nominee Aidan Quinn (HBO’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee) star as Juli’s parents, Trina and Richard Baker, and Kevin Weisman (Alias) as her Uncle Daniel. Written by Rob Reiner & Andrew Scheinman. Directed by Oscar® nominee Rob Reiner (A Few Good Men).

FILM SYNOPSIS: When second-graders Bryce and Juli first meet, Juli knows it’s love.  Bryce isn’t so sure.  Beginning that day, and for the next six years, young Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) does everything he can to keep his outspoken wannabe girlfriend at arm’s length…which isn’t easy since they go to the same school and live across the street from each other.

Smart, dreamy, independent and willing to stand up for what she believes in, Juli (Madeline Carroll) is different from anyone else he knows and, frankly, it’s a little overwhelming. What’s a guy supposed to do when a girl tells him his hair smells like watermelon or wants him to sit in a tree for the spectacular view? There’s just no telling what Juli will do next, and Bryce is one guy who’d rather be safe than sorry.

Though disappointed by Bryce’s unwillingness to see things her way, or even to see the things in life she finds most meaningful, Juli continues to give her potential dreamboat the benefit of the doubt – until those doubts stack up so high that she finally thinks maybe she was wrong about him.

It’s just about the same time Bryce starts to think maybe he was wrong about her, too. But is he too late?

PREVIEW REVIEW: I tend to compare films about children with To Kill A Mockingbird and films about teenagers with Rebel Without a Cause. I keep wanting films aimed at youth or anybody else to approach those standards. They’re hard to find. And Flipped isn’t one of them.

Flipped is sweet-natured, Madeline Carroll is likable, and John Mahoney is always impressive. The film, however, is flawed.

Set in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, detail has been paid to the look, from clothing to house decorations. Yet, there are several anachronisms such as terms like “visually challenged” that take us out of the setting. Then there’s the endless narration, with each of the two leads telling every incident they shared. We have to sit through the narrator telling us what we are seeing, then they do it from the other child’s perspective, which isn’t all that different. This tends to drag the plot (what little plot there is). And lastly, I didn’t like Callan McAuliffe’s character or performance. I kept wondering why the girl took to him. He reminded me of the Robert Redford character in The Way We Were. Things came easy for Hubble Gardner, but he wasn’t all that loaded with substance – neither is young Bryce. Indeed, Bryce is dumber than a bagful of hammers and as sensitive as that same sack.

Neither of the two neighboring families attends church, which seemed out of place for the era. No, not every family went to church in 1959, but the inclusion of a respect for religious values aids in setting the tone of a movie that is supposed to be taking us back to a more innocent time. Mixing today’s jargon (and freedom of obscenity-laced dialogue) with a past era’s sensibilities breaks the mood and shows either lazy writing or contempt for the viewer. Is the writer thinking, “They’ll never notice”? I did.

DVD Alternatives: The Sandlot (1993). The new boy in town struggles to become a member of the neighborhood baseball team. PG (a few mild expletives, one graphic scene where the kids get sick after chewing tobacco).

To Kill A Mockingbird (1962). Gregory Peck. Horton Foote's winning screenplay of the Harper Lee novel about rural life, justice, honor and bigotry as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old girl. A beautifully photographed black-and-white movie with a haunting score by Elmer Bernstein. Peck was never better. Other Horton Foote screenplays paying tribute to old-fashioned ethics: Tender Mercies, The Trip To Bountiful.

A Walk To Remember. (2002) Shane West, Mandy Moore. A smart drama aimed at the teen market, whose central figure is – are you ready for this – a committed Christian! Based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks about a high school bad boy who finds love and a reason for life when he falls for the Baptist preacher’s daughter. Youth leaders may occasionally blush during the first third of the film, but parents don’t have to worry that their children will be subjected to the profane use of God’s name or see explicit sexual activity. The s-word is used several times, but no other harsh expletives. And there is no irreverence to God or Christ. The sexual references, I admit, border on the objectionable, but these moments are utilized to set the stage, to show the difference between the spiritual and the non-spiritual. PG (Ten obscenities, but no misuse of God’s name; one character utters crude sexual remarks, but I found these infractions used to depict the moods and feelings of many high schoolers; it shows the difference between secular society and people who have been instructed by God’s Word concerning how to conduct themselves).

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Warner Bros.

Summary
Crude Language: A crude sexual comment is made by a kid.
Obscene Language: Two obscenities and several minor expletives (hell), some from the boy.
Profanity: One use of God’s name followed by a curse and one profane use of Christ’s name.
Violence: None
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: A father drinks heavily.
Other: None
Running Time: 95 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

Copyright Preview Family Movie Review (www.previeoOnline.org)