Meathead makes some pretty good movies, and while I didn’t completely “flip” over Flipped, I definitely did like it. Director Rob Reiner delivers a sweet, simple, yet entertaining movie that provides a nice break from all the highly-hyped, big-budget, sensory-overload movies that tend to dominate the summer box office.

Flipped is a romantic dramedy about a first crush, as seen and told – twice – from the perspectives of both the boy, Bryce Loski, and the girl, Juli Baker, as they grow up across the street from each other. When the two first meet, as seven year olds, Juli is instantly smitten, while Bryce is still very much in the “girls are icky” stage. Of course, by the time Bryce starts to see Juli as the pretty, intelligent and compassionate girl that she is, her view of him takes a less flattering turn.

Flipped is a bit of a throwback. It takes place in the 1950s and ‘60s and relies on a lot of voiceover narration that gives the movie a definite Wonder Years vibe. So if you liked that particular tv show, you’ll definitely like this movie. It’s got a lot of heart and an interesting supporting cast that includes Penelope Ann Baker and Aidan Quinn as Mr. and Mrs. Baker, and Anthony Edwards and Rebecca De Mornay as Mr. and Mrs. Loski. We see just enough of them to understand how their personal triumphs, fears, and prejudices helped shape their childrens’ character.

John Mahoney (of Frasier fame) plays Bryce’s grandfather, Chet, who finds a kindred spirit in Juli, who reminds him of his  late wife. Bryce is slow to understand or appreciate the friendship between his grandfather and the girl that he’s tried so desperately to avoid over the years.

The movie stars relative unknowns Madeline Caroll as Juli and Callan McAuliffe as Bryce. McAuliffe reminds me of a young Leo DiCaprio circa Growing Pains. He’s a cutie, but ultimately this is Caroll’s movie. It’s her character’s point-of-view that drives the emotion of the movie. That said, it’s a testament to good casting that you barely notice when the actors change to the teen-aged versions of their younger selves.

In the end, you can’t help but root for the pair and wonder about their future… as friends, as neighbors, and perhaps as something more.

This movie seems to be opening rather sporadically across the country. So you may have to keep an eye out for it – in theaters, or on-demand/DVD. Or, you can read the novel it’s based on – “Flipped”,  by Wendelin Van Draanen.

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