Monday, March 12, 2012

Hidden Gem: "Flipped"

Making only $1.2 million at the box office and scarcely no one has even heard of this movie, this definitely qualifies Flipped for being a Hidden Gem, a forgotten movie that deserves a second chance by audiences. The movie was directed by Rob Reiner (Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, and When Harry Met Sally to name a few), released in 2010 and quickly found its way to DVD after a very brief theatrical run. I for one never even heard of the movie until I saw it on the store shelf in a DVD section and thought it sounded intriguing. Upon watching the movie, I discovered an emotion-filled movie that I'm so smitten with, that if I had seen this back in 2010, I would have named it my favorite movie of that year.

Flipped tells the story of two eighth graders -- boy, Bryce, and girl, Julie -- in early 1960's suburban America, and how the two discover first love and possibly that first kiss. It is not as cheesy as it sounds, but is rather a story that resonates with the viewer no matter when they were born, because it speaks to an experience that most people who went through middle school have gone through. That first crush, that first attraction to a boy or girl, that is what Flipped executes so well in both a humorous and painful way.

The story uses Bryce and Julie as dual protagonists, with one scene of the story narrated by Bryce and told from his point-of-view, and then the very next scene we see the same things transpire, but from Julie's point-of-view, with her narrating. This works to draw the viewers into the mindsets of each individual character and understand more as to why they don't act on their love, and how the changes in their feelings for one another occur throughout the movie. It also makes the pain all that more heartbreaking when things do not go the way we want them to, and it is reminiscent of when such things seemed so out of reach when you were that age as well. However, what Reiner does so cleverly with Flipped is that the story isn't simply about love, it's about growing up.

Flipped is a coming-of-age story, having your eyes opened up to what is actually important in life and what isn't. Learning that your parents are in fact flawed and human, learning that the world is not as genuinely good as you wish it was, and understanding that life will always be complicated by conflicting emotions. In so many ways, this is what makes this movie feel so timeless. It's almost a minimalist movie from Reiner, where the setting is not as important as the characters and their emotions. Sure, with the movie being set in the 1960s, just before JFK was assassinated, it creates this innocent nostalgia of a time long gone, but this story could have just as easily been told in 2012 America and would have been the same movie. The themes are still relevant and important to the human experience. That is why I think Flipped is an important movie. It's also entertaining, original, often times heartbreaking, other times funny, and other times truly beautiful. A spectacular cinematic experience that must be seen.

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