I'm back at home in sunny Los Angeles for the final five-day stretch of movies, and just caught Rob Reiner's old-fashioned, young love story Flipped, which focuses on the evolving relationship between two middle-schoolers in the late '50s and early '60s.
Kids may appreciate the film's tender/smart take on the differences between boys and girls, but older adults closer to Reiner's own demographic are the real target audience for this sensitive cross between his own When Harry Met Sally and Stand By Me. If you're an old-school sap, you'll find lots to love here. Thankfully – and especially on Day 96 – I'm very much one of those.
Lots of folks will liken this to Reiner's first big successes – besides the two mentioned, others on his '80s roll of hits include The Princess Bride, The Sure Thing, Misery and This Is Spinal Tap. I'm not sure I'd get that carried away with the comparisons, but I would say that this sweet ode about a sensitive girl's crush on the handsome, somewhat clueless boy next door – and the way their relationship swings to the other extreme and then possibly into balance – is a step in the right direction of Reiner's former filmmaking self. Character matters the most in this movie. By the time the ending plays out, you've been able to know the young heroes and their families, and you genuinely root for the outcome they've earned.
Some of the devices getting there are admittedly a little contrived. The stubborn father, the kindly grandfather, the differences between the upscale family and their laidback neighbors – all of those elements are present. Plus, the quaint '50s nature (a kiss means everything in this PG environment) might not translate to today's younger audience...at least it didn't at my screening. But in the end, what's really wrong with an old-fashioned story about learning to respect and appreciate someone else? In the current era where sensation and visual trickery make up the bulk of most modern movie-dom, it's a nice throwback.
Back in '85, The Sure Thing arrived on screens, and became one of my all-time favorite films. That John Cusack/Daphne Zuniga rom com shares a lot in common with this film in its basic, human theme of men and women attempting to really understand one another. Reiner's admitted in previous interviews that he's basically been remaking the same film over and over, just in different genres and settings. For you, which of his beloved films has meant the most?