Think Of The Homeless

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: Flipped


Rated: PG [See Full Rating] for language and some thematic material

Runtime: 1 hr. 30 min.

Genre: Romance, Drama, Comedy

Theatrical Release: Aug 6, 2010 Limited

Starring: Callan McAuliffe, Madeline Carroll, Aidan Quinn, Rebecca De Mornay, Penelope Ann Miller, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Shane Harper

Director: Rob Reiner
Screenwriter: Rob Reiner , Andrew Scheinman
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures

Back in my days of creative writing class the other students would look at me funny when I discounted the too often used device of writing human interest stories. But they are ubiquitous, and there is good reason for this. All the explosions and 3-D effects in the world are no match for well drawn characters with interesting personalities.

In Rob Reiner’s Flipped we get a sharp, professonially done look at the small world of two kids who live across the street from each other and the forces that move them as they grow up within their respective “family worlds” and the social world that they share.

Juli and Bryce are two extremely recognizable kids who start out as the boy crazy girl who has a thing for Bryce, and Bryce is the boy who embarrassingly hides behind his mother’s skirt to get away from Juli. Juli has a thing for Bryce’s eyes, no doubt recognizing in some hidden part of her brain a quality she knows to be familiar. Little does she as a child know that at birth her mind is a blank slate and the first thing her eyes will see on a regular basis will be her own mother’s eyes. With this dynamic in mind, who wouldn’t make intuitive connections about feeling love for anyone who’s eyes also carry that quality.

Bryce is somewhat more vanilla than Juli and finds her demonstrative and overt moves toward him to be incomprehensible and intrusive. He is a good kid though, and being non-violent and well mannered puts a lot of energy into finding ways to avoid his would be paramour. His own example of familiarity with Juli’s type are one generation removed in the qualities of his grandmother, who for the film has now passed away. But Bryce’s Grandfather recognizes Juli all too well, and in a bit of humanitarian indulgence honors Juli’s, and his lamented wife’s position on the world and its myriad of pleasures and crushing disappointments.

The story is told in the style of “The Wonder Years” with shifting points of view voiced over by both Bryce and Juli as they both explain their unique positions on events that they both experience during the flow of the overall narrative. We’re given inside views to their thoughts and motivations during events and shown how divergent and confused mere social contact can actually be, not that we really needed to know about this. In the meantime we learn things about Juli and her family and also Bryce and his family. We learn that Juli’s family is poor and have the worst kept house on the block. Bryce’s parents have many assumptions and opinions on why Juli’s family operates the way they do and unfortunately “bring down” the value of the neighborhood. Juli’s father is called a dreamer, a man who paints landscapes instead of taking care of the lawn. It isn’t until Grandpa breaks that “fourth wall” in his friendship with Juli that the bigger and more important issues come forward in all their prejudice correcting finality.

Bryce learns about Juli from the position of his own enforced exile, and as he sees her climbing an old sycamore tree to get a view of the sprawling majesty of surrounding nature, or caring for home grown chickens in her backyard or being charitable toward a boy in school who is ignored by everyone, he begins to find that perhaps he has been remiss to avoid her all these years. For Juli, her own maturity and development toward her own future “Norma Rae” personality, slowly comes to realize that perhaps her youthful judgments of Bryce have been all smoke and mirrors and, in her own words, “Bryce has never really been my friend”. She then turns her back on him. Bryce valiantly tries to save the day and fails in his own methods as he panics at the thought of having missed and wounded a girl who’s rivers run deep. He then draws on his genetic smarts and wisdom, manifested in his grandfather, and pulls a sweet “hail mary” move which hits Juli right where she lives.

This is a really sweet movie. Someone I know told me that if I went to see it, I’d be crapping rainbows. And yes, that is just what happened, but that’s not all that happened. It was a great pleasure to watch masterful directing and a well written script with a revelatory narrative. The actors are all amazingly up to the job, with one lone sour note (and I think this was just a poor choice of directive focus) among a wonderfully orchestrated story about humanity we can all identify with. Its great to see Hollywood green light something that isn’t just concerned with bringing in massive profits, but actually pays homage to what movies truly can be and what they do best.

You surely can go to see Rob Reiner’s film and not worry about being assaulted by the crude and hate filled language and attitudes of what mostly comes from the industry today. There is one nasty word which was a bit unneeded and also a scene in an ice ream shop that seemed overwrought and manipulative of the audience, but not to worry, nothing here remotely resembles the social deviant predilections of a Judd Apatow film.

Go see this film. Crap rainbows.

4/5 stars

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