Rob Reiner's new film "Flipped" is a beautiful piece of work, simple and sincere and wise, featuring a great ensemble cast ranging from their early teens to their seventies. It's great to see Reiner make a film that is every inch as warm and human and enjoyable as the films he made his name with in the early part of his career. It may be based on a novel, but Reiner wrote the adaptation himself, and his voice as a filmmaker has rarely been this crystal-clear.
Reiner and his co-screenwriter Andrew Scheinman retained the unusual structure of the book by Wendelin Van Draanen, and the result is unconventional enough that the trailers for the film never even tried to explain it. "Flipped" is the story of Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) and Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll), two kids who meet when the Loskis move into the house across the street from the Bakers. When they first move in, we see the memory from the perspective of Bryce, complete with voice-over narration. Ten minutes or so into the film, we jump back to the beginning, and this time we see everything from Juli's perspective, complete with voice-over.
The entire film is divided like that, and at first, it just seems like a clever way of setting up some tension in a story of first love. Bryce thinks the little girl across the street is weird, while she looks at him and sees her first kiss hiding in there somewhere. The easy version of this film would just be concerned with getting them to that kiss. Not "Flipped," though. Reiner's far more concerned with those two kids, and the role community plays in the way character evolves.