Rob Reiner’s ‘Flipped’ Will Take You Back in Time

Nostalgia is defined as “a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past,” and with Netflix’s new addition “Flipped” (which was released by Warner Bros. in 2010) viewers can expect that warm bliss of youth to come flooding back. “Flipped” follows the inner monologue of two young neighbors and their story of first love in 1963. Juli (Madeline Carroll) doesn’t come from money, but she is headstrong and down to earth. When Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) moves in across the street, for Juli it’s love at first sight. Sadly, he and his more affluent family initially want little to do with her. Placed in the stream of consciousness of two 1960s adolescents, this seemingly innocent, cutesy movie grows into something deeper as it tackles more mature content.

When Juli sees Bryce move in across the street, she falls for his dazzling eyes and charisma, despite his constant and blatant efforts to keep distance between himself and his weird new neighbor. Between his father’s flash judgements and the treatment Juli receives from the rest of the community, Bryce falls in line with harsh dismissal of her for years to come, all while Juli is in fierce pursuit not only of him, but of every endeavor she sets for herself. When Juli’s ambition catches the attention of Bryce’s grandfather, he advises his grandson to open himself to that kind of rarity, and Bryce’s feelings, as one may guess, flip. Yet, when Juli is encouraged by her father to see the world through the eyes of an artist and learns to find everything as greater than the sum of its parts, she reflects on her feelings for Bryce and starts to find that maybe he’s less than the sum of his parts. 

Courtesy of Warner Bros.

Forged in the story of two twelve-year-olds sorting out the strange new feelings brought on by adolescence, this feature is poetically assembled to tell an all-encompassing story about the complexity of relationships beyond the romantic ones, as well as how each connection in one’s lifetime develops character. Deliberate choices breathe life into a seemingly uncomplicated story, one of them being the idea to set this story in the 1960s. Maybe director Rob Reiner was signing off on just another love letter to the 60s, but this era, often regarded as the “wonder years,” set the tone as nostalgic with a glowing facade that can also be associated with innocence.

Youth is at the heart of this film, but much like the 1960s, when people genuinely reflect on being young, it reveals a sense of naive, blissful ignorance. In reality, the 60s were full of materialism and problematic societal expectations.This certainly seeps out at the seams of the young love story, despite it not always being acknowledged in a harsh light. Juli and Bryce’s story, intersected by their abstract family lives, comes to reveal itself as an allegory for the time period. After all, being young and in love, much like remembering the “wonder years,” can cause the troubles in life to be overlooked.

The audience sees this story through young eyes to ensure that when the mature content is divulged throughout the plot, it is treated the way children see the world and how little they understand. The only perspectives provided are Juli’s and Bryce’s. While their innocent voices toy with their underdeveloped feelings through narration, the adults in their lives drop anecdotes that give the film its notes of thematic intelligence. A glass of liquor in hand at all times and a fit of anger that ends in an instance of domestic abuse, Bryce’s father time and time again sends the audience into extreme disgust. He’s constantly boasting about his stable job and well-financed family through the clothes they wear, the cleanliness of their landscaping and the size of their house. On the other hand, whispers around town reveal that Juli’s family lacks money because her father pours it into putting his disabled brother into a nice facility all while people speculate that these issues must run in the family. They are constantly scrutinized for the condition of their house and lawn.

All of these matters are opened along the way, but never met with a resolution. From the perspective of a child, these issues may not be fully comprehended until years later. A toxic patriarch, materialism, and ableism are all extremely heavy issues given light in this movie. The stylistic approach to these problems through the misunderstood minds of children, powerfully enhances the layers of “Flipped.”

A stroke of brilliance overlooked for too long, “Flipped” is sure to revive itself as a true celebration of youth. One line in the film goes “one’s character is set at an early age,” and while this movie is a drama that explores the lighthearted nature of early romances, it is just as much an exploration of relationships with family, relationships with things and relationships with ourselves as we grow. It will leave viewers looking back to these defining times. To be young is to love and to be young is to learn. “Flipped” has a heartwarming, creative approach to this idea that is worthy of more praise.

‘Flipped’ is available to stream on Netflix.

By Elisabeth Hudak

Leave a Reply