Flipped is a 2010 romantic comedy directed by Rob Reiner, written by Rob Reiner and Andrew Scheinman, based on the book of the same name by Wendelin Van Draanen and stars Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller and Aidan Quinn. The film follows the lives of two kids, who grow up to be teens, as we look at the world through both their perspectives.
Back when I was a young whippersnapper, I had an idea while watching a film. I thought to myself, “Why do we not show the deep lying emotions of every character in a story?”. The film I was watching was moderately heavy on narration and it made sense to me that I could clearly understand everything I needed to know about the characters because it was spelled out for me so clearly. And then I grew up.
Years later, when I could watch a pegi-18 film, I ran into this widely loved but clearly gimmicky film titled Sin City. The film had two primary selling points. One being its stylized visuals and the other was its overtly comic book-ish narrative style. There were rarely any moments of conveying character motivations via clever scene structure. Characters were established through expository dialogue or by the use of the supposed “crutch” of screenwriting, background narration. Is this an effective method to tell a story? Yes, when it is not the sole point of ingenuity propelling the film.
I can put my finger on why a film like this would get made. The saying “A sucker is born every minute comes to mind”. Not to say that I am above being a sucker, I love the very obscure Emma Roberts film “Wild Child”. I watched it at the right age and at the right time. Now, even though I know the film is bad, I can rarely be bothered by its flaws because of how intricately it’s linked to my adoration of cinema. Flipped could work for an audience member who has not been exposed to fresh narrative styles. As it contains a paint-by-numbers romance plot which most viewers would easily forget, one could find him/herself engaged by the methodology used to unfurl the story.
The film is shot, directed, edited and scored competently enough. The emotions are only at the surface and some of the characters are just plain caricatures. The emotional resonance is there if you look for it. The film will not, however, pull you in by the scruff of your neck. Not Rob Reiner’s best work. There is an inherent been-there-done-that feeling the film exudes. It is inescapable. Not to say that I predicted every plot point the film had on offer, but one can easily see emotional peaks and troughs the film has coming from a mile away.
This is not a bad film. One can quite easily have an okay 90 minutes with it playing in the background. But I see that as a problem. It does not aspire to be something better. It does not try to elevate itself from its derivative subject matter apart from having a “fresh” structure. I’m cautiously confident that if a person were to watch Flipped and Sin City in succession, a person would walk away with memories of the latter as this film would disappear into the deep recesses of most viewer’s minds because of its palpable unoriginality.