Directed By: Rob Reiner
Starring: Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Aidan Quinn, Penelope Ann Miller, Kevin Weisman
Studio: Warner Bros./Castle Rock
Film Length: 90 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Release Date: November 23, 2010
The Film ***½
Flipped, adapted from the popular juvenile novel of the same name by Author Wendelin Van Draanen, follows the relationship of two teen neighbors in small town Michigan in the early 1960s. Juli (Carroll) is a sensitive, intelligent, free spirit, who has been determined to cultivate a relationship with neighbor Bryce (McAuliffe) since the day his family moved in across the street from the home her family rents. The much less adventurous Bryce is terrified of Juli and constantly worried about how his classmates will perceive him if he is openly friendly with his eccentric neighbor. Mirroring the narrative structure of the source book, the film literally "flips" first person perspectives between both of its protagonists recounting various episodes in the awkward development of their friendship through both Juli and Bryce's eyes and points of view. Over the course of the film, Juli and Bryce discover things about themselves and their families that both positively and negatively "flip" their opinions and preconceptions about each other.
Director Rob Reiner's output over the past couple of decades has been anything but consistent, but as a piece of material from which to adapt a film, Flipped seems to be ideally suited to his strengths. It combines a story with protagonists overcoming the seemingly unfathomable differences between the sexes (Think The Sure Thing and When Harry Met Sally, and try not to think of The Story of Us) with a coming of age story involving young teens figuring out their place in the world (think Stand by Me and try not to think of North). For the most part, Reiner succeeds, blending a gentle non-cloying sentimentality with some very relatable teen angst. The frustrating aspects of voiceover narration in films where a viewer normally wants to be shown rather than told things are addressed by a clever screenplay that allows the narration in concert with the viewer's knowledge of the narrator's limited perspective to work as a counterpoint to the on-screen action. The overall effect is enhanced tremendously by uncannily strong performances from juvenile actors Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe.
As consistently understated and on-target as the performances from Carroll and McAuliffe are throughout the film, Reiner occasionally fails to rein in some of the more experienced adult actors resulting in a couple of scenes where Aidan Quinn (as Carroll's father) and Anthony Edwards (As McAuliffe's father) strike sour notes during scenes where they are required to be explosively emotional. These scenes, as well as a sequence featuring a somewhat indulgent performance by Kevin Weisman as the mentally disabled Uncle of Carroll's character, are not enough to completely derail the film, however, which remains a charming take on the confusion associated with young romance.
The Video ****
The video comes courtesy of a VC-1 encoded 1080p presentation which approximates the film's original theatrical aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 frame. The film's cinematography is given a purposefully diffuse and desaturated look to convey a sense of nostalgic consistent with its early 1960s small town setting. The inherent softness and low color saturation is conveyed accurately by the video presentation which results in a less than eye popping presentation that is nonetheless appropriate for the content.
The Audio ***
The DTS-HD MA lossless 5.1 track presents the film's conservative theatrical mix with the expected high fidelity for a modern film. The mix focuses almost exclusively on the front channels with minimal to no use of the surrounds for either discrete effects or general ambience. As with the video, the presentation does not exploit the technical capabilities of modern film sound formats, but it is consistent with the theatrical presentation and the filmmakers' intentions. An alternate Spanish language dub is also available in Dolby Digital 5.1
The Extras *½
When the disc is first inserted into a player, the following two skippable promos play. They are presented in VC-1 encoded 1080p video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio):
- Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore BD/DVD Trailer (2:26)
- Lottery Ticket BD/DVD Trailer (2:19)
The proper special features on this disc consist of a group of featurettes that are all presented in 1080p VC-1 encoded video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound unless otherwise indicated below.
The Differences Between a Boy and a Girl (6:32) focuses on the film's two young lead actors. It consists of the usual combination of on-set interviews, behind the scenes footage, and film clips. Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, and Director Rob Reiner offer up mostly superficial descriptions of their characters, the real-life relationship between the actors, the on-set environment, the film's plot, and the film's style. The most interesting material involves discussions of the casting process for the film.
Embarrassing Egg-scuses (5:01) discusses the chickens and eggs appearing in the film. I will not spoil which is discussed first. The majority of this featurette consists of behind the scenes footage with occasional on-set interview comments. In addition to Carroll, McAuliffe, and Reiner, we also hear from Chicken Wranglers Patty Raymond and Christine Mahaney.
Flipped: Anatomy of a Near Kiss (3:18) discusses the awkward process of shooting a scene with an awkward almost kiss. It plays like a very specific blooper reel intercut with talking head interview comments from Carroll and McAuliffe.
How to Make the Best Volcano (4:54) is a throwaway featurette in which McAuliffe demonstrates how to make an erupting volcano model like the one his character creates for a science fair in the film.
SD DVD & Digital Copy - As is the case with all recent Warner BDs of theatrical new release titles, a separate disc is included with an SD DVD of the film and a digital copy. The DVD presentation is bare bones with the film in 16:9 enhanced widescreen video, English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and available English SDH, French, or Spanish subtitles. It has no extras or chapter menu. The video carries noticeable but not excessive signs of mpeg-2 compression and minor aliasing, but is otherwise a very solid standard definition presentation.
The digital copy is on-disc, and is compatible with either iTunes or Windows Media formats. It is unlocked through the use of a one-time password provided on a paper insert to the disc case.
The disc is enclosed in a standard Blu-ray case with an extra hub on the inner left side allowing it to accommodate the DVD/digital copy disc as well as the BD of the film. The only insert is the sheet with the code to unlock the iTunes or Windows Media digital copy. The Blu-ray case is in turn surrounded by a cardboard slipcover with identical artwork to the hard case insert aside form some added text promoting the SD DVD and digital copy.
Rob Reiner's Flipped plays to his strengths as a writer/director to tell a gently sentimental tale of young romance and coming of age in a nostalgic small town setting. A couple of false steps keep the film shy of greatness, but it is still a welcome respite from a seemingly never ending parade of family-oriented films with nothing to offer but lame slapstick and bathroom humor. It is presented on Blu-ray disc with a solid A/V presentation that reflects its intentionally soft and desaturated cinematography and straightforward "plain vanilla" sound mix. Extras are slight and oriented towards younger viewers interested in the film's young cast ... and chickens.