Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Blu Ray/DVD Review: FLIPPED

This period piece comic drama flopped when it was released for a limited run last August (it briefly played in the Raleigh area). It's now out on Blu ray and DVD for another chance to win folks over:

FLIPPED (Dir. Rob Reiner, 2010)

It's been a long time since Rob Reiner has made a decent movie.

The man who in his early career gave us such classics as THIS IS SPINAL TAP and THE PRINCESS BRIDE has lately churned out dreck like RUMOR HAS IT and THE BUCKET LIST.

So while it's pleasant surprise that his newest is from the Rob Reiner that made STAND BY ME - not the Rob Reiner that made NORTH it's also sad to say that FLIPPED is still below par.

Set in the same era of STAND BY ME (though the novel it's based on by Wendelin Van Draanen was set in modern times), FLIPPED follows the budding relationship of a young boy (Callan McAuliffe) and girl (Madeline Carroll) who live across the street from each other in a Michigan suburb.

Things are pretty rocky off the bat as McAuliffe is annoyed by Carroll's constant affection. It doesn't help matters that the boy's father (Anthony Edwards) puts down the girl's family by way of their unkempt yard.

McAuliffe is the embodiment of a "Boy's Life" cover - a well-groomed blonde-haired baseball-loving all American boy. He's embarrassed by being stalked by the weird girl who brings his family eggs from her own chickens she's raising in her backyard.

Carroll, with her long hair and plaid attire, is a pre-teen hippie just waiting for the revolution to kick in. She loves a sycamore tree that towers over the neighborhood and makes the local paper when she refuses to climb down from it so it can be cut down. A little of her spunky spirit goes a long way.

When Carroll catches McAuliffe throwing away the most recent batch of eggs, her infatuation begins to fade and an awkward separation sets in between them.

Carroll begins a friendship with McAuliffe's grandfather (Frasier's John Mahoney) who helps her clean up her yard while the boy stews watching from his window.

The attempts to enhance this slight material with subplots involving Carroll's retarded uncle, her pompadoured brothers who are trying to break into the early '60s rock scene, and her dreaming painter father (Aidan Quinn) don't go anywhere - they just pile up as sideline clich├ęs.

Not to mention the thankless nothing roles played by Rebecca De Mornay and Penelope Ann Miller as the young couples' housewife mothers.

The film uses voice-over narration to get us into the heads of McAuliffe and Carroll as they recount the same events from their contrasting points of view (he said, she said style), but its a tedious process as we can guess exactly what supposed insight is coming way before it is said.

Nonetheless it is a step up from the films Reiner has made in the 15 years since THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT (a still cheesy film yet one that has an undeniable charm) and it does have some touching moments amid its strained Spielbergian sunniness and lackluster dialog.

FLIPPED is a forgettable throwaway, but a nice try for a once acclaimed film maker hoping to get back in the game.

Don't give up yet, Meathead! I, for one, am still pulling for you.

Bonus Features: The DVD only has one extra - "'Flipped': Anatomy of a Near Kiss" (3:18), but the Blu ray has 3 - "The Differences Between a Boy and a Girl" (6:32), "Embarrassing Egg-scuses" (5:01), and "How to Make the Best Volcano" (4:54).

More later...

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