Saturday, 27 July 2013

Flipped is not A Few Good Men...and that's fine!

Back in 1992, Rob Reiner was strutting his stuff as one of the biggest mainstream directors in Hollywood with the release of the mega-hit A Few Good Men. The big three of Tom Cruise, Jack Nicholson and Demi Moore (yes, she once had a me!) made for riches at the box office and contempt from myself. I found the work contrived and forced, with no real sense of "wow" and suspense emerging through the predictable plot and scene-chewing by the ham-slicing Nicholson. Aside from the obvious appeal of Cruise (say what you will about him as a human being - I think he's a fair bit of a whack-job - the man has had enormous success and that doesn't come through luck), I was puzzled as to why this was such a big hit and simply wrote it off as being for the usual reasons - I wasn't bright enough to get what the masses were appreciating in the work of Mr. Reiner.

Then came the stumble, not for me, although holding down a part-time job doing market research coding was my idea of stability. Reiner followed up his military court room triumph with the boy-divorces-parents mess that is the infamous North. Aside from the relatively well-received The American President, the good-ship Reiner sprung many more leaks over the next several years (although The Bucket List was at least a modest box office success) and left me wondering whether the cleverness of This Is Spinal Tap would ever rear it's head again.

One day at the Walmart up the street, my wife was rummaging through the $5 DVD bin and came up with this copy of Flipped. If this 2010 film had ever received a theatrical release in Canada, it had certainly flown under my radar.

I'm pleased to say that Flipped was one of the more enjoyable films I have seen of late. While perhaps a little too cutsey for some tastes, the movie won me over with it's strong performances and genuine warmth.

Bryce Loski and his family move into a new neighbourhood, where eager and over-attentive Juli Baker from across the street follows his movements to what almost resorts as stalking. As they become young teenagers, the pair (played by Callan McAuliffe and the charming Madeline Carrol) continue the process of her overwhelming him with attention that is rarely reciprocated. Once there seems to be a chance of Bryce changing his feelings for her, Juli has decided that some of his actions have resulted in too much hurt and it appears our two kids may never get along.

The narrative is done in a back-and-forth he-said/she-said manner - not the most original approach but it worked fine here.

For myself, this represented a Reiner comeback and I'm sorry it didn't attract a greater following (although I may be close to being in the minority regarding the good vibes I had - the Tomato Meter didn't exactly go off the charts on this one.)  Seeing how the two main leads change their perspectives on each other kept me involved to the very end. It was also nice to see Aidan Quinn (an actor who I always thought would get a little further ahead in the field) put in a solid and likeable turn as Juli's wannabe painter father. John Mahoney also delivers a good job of being the straw that stirs the drink in this film - his role of the recently widowed grandfather of Bryce puts him in a central position of influencing the dynamics between the Loski's and the family across the street. One wished for a little more redemption and less grating from Anthony Edward's character of Bryce's father - his appearances marked the only points in the film where I really felt my viewing time was being wasted by this stereotypical mean dad turn.

Overall, Flipped struck me as more sweet than sappy and with the winning performances in it, I can recommend that one can take a chance on a film from a director that I have previously viewed with wariness.

I say this film tastes - FRIENDLY.

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