Charmingly old-fashioned, Director Rob Reiner’s “Flipped” feels like a film you might be delighted to discover on home video or even basic cable. It doesn’t feature many big-name stars – Anthony Edwards (“ER”), John Mahoney (“Frasier”), Aidan Quinn and Rebecca De Mornay play parental figures, but the spotlight is on young stars Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe as Juli Baker and Bryce Loski, two smitten teens in the early 1960s.
Childhood isn’t all a walk in the park.
Or bicycle rides to the candy store or comic book shop.
It’s about more than kicking up clouds of dust in the infield of a Little League diamond.
And doodling robot warriors in your three-ring binder during math class.
Sure, the stresses of youth sometimes seem paltry compared to the burdens we now carry as adults.
But back then, no problems were more pressing than bullies, homework, overbearing parents, popularity contests and girls.
Two flicks in this week’s Reel Deal review take us back to school – back to sack lunches and recess; back to pimples and poofy hair.
Charmingly old-fashioned, Director Rob Reiner’s “Flipped” feels like a film you might be delighted to discover on home video or even basic cable.
It doesn’t feature many big-name stars – Anthony Edwards (“ER”), John Mahoney (“Frasier”), Aidan Quinn and Rebecca De Mornay play parental figures, but the spotlight is on young stars Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe as Juli Baker and Bryce Loski, two smitten teens in the early 1960s.
It doesn’t dominate theater marquees, and that’s a real shame.
“Flipped” isn’t likely to be a blockbuster. It’s nowhere near the box office top 10 – which in its opening weekend was won by “Resident Evil 3-D: Afterlife,” a gory, video game-inspired zombie franchise that should’ve worn out its welcome by now. It’s a sad state of cinema that movie messes like “Machete” are money-makers, and little attention is paid to gems like this one.
More people should get the chance to flip for “Flipped.”
It’s feel-good family fun and should appeal equally to nostalgic senior citizens, their adult-age children and those in their awkward tween years.
Reiner’s squarely back in his golden zone with “Flipped,” which in style settles in somewhere between his “Stand By Me” in 1986 and “When Harry Met Sally” in 1989.
Bryce meets Juli when his family moves into the house across the street.
From first glance and from first all the way through eighth grade, Juli’s goofy in love with him – and determined to share her first kiss with him.
On the flipside, Bryce for the most part sees Juli as a pest, always buzzing around, cramping his style and embarrassing him in front of his friends and family.
But then things start to change – like the seasons and the colors of the leaves on Juli’s beloved sycamore tree.
As Bryce starts to see Juli for the sweetheart she is (after some gentle prodding by his wise and lonesome grandfather), Juli starts to wonder if Bryce is worth pining over.
This story of flip-flopping young love unfolds from both perspectives – scenes narrated first by Bryce, and then flipped to tell Juli’s side.
Though it very well could have, the device doesn’t wear thin due largely to the charm and charisma of cute stars Carroll and McAuliffe.
You don’t get the sense necessarily that you’re seeing the same scene twice because the information and the emotions conveyed are unique. Rather than repetitive, it feels right.
Like Juli and Bryce, “Flipped” is greater – deeper and lovelier – than the sum of its parts.
Middle school is a minefield – riddled with bullies and cliques and moldy cheese.
And Greg Hefferly, a clever smart-aleck sixth-grader, navigates and narrates it in “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” based on a popular series of crudely illustrated novels by Jeff Kinney.
Greg (Zachary Gordon) and his best friend Rowley (Robert Capron) are both fish out of water in middle school – but, really, who isn’t? – though Greg fools himself into thinking that for him it’s only temporary.
He’s determined to rise through the ranks of middle school “morons” and claim a spot among the most popular in his class – and he doesn’t seem to care whose feelings or toes he needs to step on to do so.
Yeah, Greg’s kind of a jerk. He’s terrible at times to his pal, Rowley, who is as loyal and woefully unaware as a puppy until Greg finally crosses the line.
And Greg thinks he’s better than pretty much everyone else – though his self-made pedestal is awfully shaky, as he discovers.
He shuns equally-awkward classmates Chiraq (his “bully buffer), Fregley (the freckled, spectacled nose-picker) and the slightly older and wiser outcast-by-choice Angie (played by “Kick-Ass” hit girl Chloe Moretz).
He’s tormented by – and dishes it back to – his older rock-band brother Rodrick (Devon Bostick) who, a little like Ferris Bueller, gets his digs in unnoticed by their clueless parents (played by Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn).
Greg’s definitely got a lot to learn – and that’s part of the fun.
“Diary of a Wimpy Kid” is a special kind of torture – sort of a “tickle torture” in that it makes kids (who can relate) and adults (who prefer to black out their own middle-school years) laugh through the pain.
It’s precocious wit – mixed with a little slapstick and lots of silliness – makes it more than just a Nickelodeon or Disney Channel distraction.
You don’t have to be a wimpy kid to like it, though it probably helps.
The best part: The movie made my 6-year-old son excited to read the book!
Being a teenager is too much for 16-year-old Craig Gilner, played by Keir Gilchrist in “It’s Kind of a Funny Story,” a sensitive comedy-drama set in a psychiatric ward and co-starring Zach Galifianakis (of “The Hangover”) and Emma Roberts (of “Nancy Drew”) as Craig’s fellow head-cases.
His five days in the nuthouse are bound to be both funny and life-changing.
Get committed in theaters Oct. 8.
Robert McCune is editor of The Independent in Massillon, Ohio.