Rob Reiner's charming 2010 movie Flipped is based on the book of the same name by Wendelin Van Draanen, and like the book, it alternates between the narrating voices of two junior high school students in the 1950s. Madeline Carroll stars as Juli Baker, an artsy girl with an unusual way of looking at the world. Opposite her is Callan McAuliffe as Bryce Loski, the boy she has swooned over for years, ever since he first moved to the neighborhood. As the movie begins, she is still very much infatuated with him, but gradually, she begins to see some of his less admirable qualities. Just as she starts to lose interest in him, he comes to appreciate how special she really is.
The device of switching narration to give each of their perspectives adds to the charm of the movie as we often see how different the same event looks to the two characters. In many cases, the effect is humorous, and it has a lot to say about the differences in how girls and boys think. Sometimes, however, the effect is poignant and even painful. This is a tale of first love, and there is bitterness to go along with the sweetness.
The movie broaches hard subjects such as economic disparity among neighbors, the difficulties of dealing with mentally challenged family members and the fight between environmentalism and property development. It also is educational in that it offers a peek at a particular historical time. The soundtrack supports the setting, filled as it is with songs from the likes of The Chiffons and The Everly Brothers.
While the movie is primarily about the two teens, it also delves into their families, particularly Juli's sensitive father Richard (Aidan Quinn), a dreamer who encourages her artistic view of the world, and Bryce's widowed grandfather Chet, played by John Mahoney. These characters help the younger ones to see with a wisdom beyond their years and add to the film's emotional resonance. Other characters in the movie include Juli's institutionalized uncle Daniel (Kevin Weisman) and frustrated mom Trina (Penelope Ann Miller) and Bryce's hot-headed dad Steven (Anthony Edwards) and gentle mom (Rebecca de Mornay).
Flipped is rated PG because of some mature themes, but it is designed as a family-friendly movie, particularly for kids in the pre-adolescent stage. It reveals much about the way that boys and girls interact with each other and the mistakes that occur when effective communication is absent.