Now 63, Rob Reiner, who made his directing debut with “This Is Spinal Tap,” followed by “Stand By Me,” “The Princess Bride” and “When Harry Met Sally,” has come up with a warm, wonderful coming-of-age comedy that gently, sweetly captures the emotional pain of growing up.
It’s 1957, when second-graders Juli and Bryce first meet. Free-spirited Juli (Madeline Carroll) is from a family of non-conformists. Her father loves to paint and never mows the lawn. She raises chickens and dutifully sells their eggs and her favorite view of the neighborhood is from the top of a huge sycamore tree. When blue-eyed Bryce Loski’s (Callan McAuliffe) traditionalist family moves in across the street on Bonnie Meadow Lane, it is love at first sight for Juli, who dreams of sharing her first kiss with Bryce. But embarrassed by her attention; he’s most definitely not interested. And he remains aloof, even antagonistic until eighth-grade adolescence when, suddenly, he sees her, her family and his own judgmental family from a different point of view and learns about the real value of friendship and compassion.
Adapted by Reiner and Andrew Scheinman from a popular young adult novel written by Wendelin Van Draanen and filmed in Michigan, it’s a character-driven, timeless tale of triumph and agony, frustration and first love, striking a nostalgic chord about that first kiss, that first crush, that first rejection, evoking memories of “The Wonder Years” and “My Girl.” Several times, it views the same situation from Juli’s point of view, then Bryce’s. What a relief after the seemingly endless stream of sequels and franchises!
The ensemble acting is first-rate with Rebecca De Mornay and Anthony Edwards as Bryce’s uptight parents, Patsy and Steven Loski; Penelope Ann Miller, Aidan Quinn and Kevin Weisman as Juli’s down-to-earth family, Trina, Richard and Daniel Baker, along with John Mahoney as ‘Grandpa’ Chet Duncan. Lookalikes Morgan Lily and Ryan Ketzner are perfect as young Juli and young Bryce.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to10, “Flipped” is a funny, fresh and totally engaging 8. It’s a nostalgic gem.