FILM RATING: 3 stars
Writer/Director Rob Reiner’s most recent addition to the world of cinema is Flipped (2010), a super sweet, PG-rated, coming-of-age movie set in the early 1960’s. It’s basically a simple story about first love between two tweens. I had no intention of watching this flick initially, but then heard some mixed reviews on a few film podcasts, with both really negative and really positive remarks. So when Flipped debuted on HBO in HD this week, I recorded it to my DVR and checked it out. And I was pleasantly surprised that the movie wasn’t too Disney or Lifetime for me, being rated so light. While it isn’t a movie I’ll watch again anytime soon, I give props to Reiner for putting together a sort of “lite” version of Stand By Me (1986) for the younger set. It’s got heart and its intentions are in the right place. This story isn’t about a group of boyhood friends, like the classic Stand By Me, but instead about girl-boy friendship and early love.
The young stars of this film, played by Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe, do a fine job of providing solid believable performances. The same can be said for the entire supporting cast, which includes Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Aidan Quinn, and Penelope Ann Miller. Reiner assembled a pretty well known cast of older actors, who don’t seem to be headlining more significant projects, but put their acting chops to work here. Together, the cast helps tell this short 90-minute story without going too over-the-top.
One of the standout features of the film is the warm, saturated and beautiful cinematography by Thomas Del Ruth, who also worked with Reiner on Stand By Me. Del Ruth has an eye for good lighting and composition in his photography. I really appreciated what he did here because without his work, this film could’ve devolved into a Special of the Week TV movie. But Del Ruth gives the film a marked cinematic feel. The production design on the film by Bill Brzeski was also well done. I never questioned being set in the 60’s while watching the film. Every little detail in the sets, locations, props, costumes, and makeup were spot on. While the sound design and music for the film didn’t stand out for me, the sound was solid and did its job.
If you’re looking for a family friendly flick or something to just escape into for an afternoon, Flipped isn’t a bad choice. It reminds you to not always judge a book by its cover.