A lot of contemporary movies picture American suburban life as banal, hypocritical, and morally bankrupt -- a deceitful place where manicured landscapes and plastic surgery cover up empty, desperate realities. But in Rob Reiner's newly-released film Flipped, the American 'burbs provide the environment in which fragile, honest goodness is repeatedly tested and quietly grows.
Completely devoid of special effects, violence, or sex -- and without a single chase scene or exploding car, Flipped relies on old-fashioned storytelling and great acting to tell the story of a boy and girl coming of age in the suburbs.
The story begins with young Juli developing a massive childhood crush on Bryce, the new kid in the neighborhood with dreamy eyes. In spite of those eyes of his, Bryce is completely blind to her beauty, and when he finally begins to flip for her as she has for him, it's almost too late.
The families of the two protagonists are essential to the film's richness. I asked producer Rob Reiner about some of these secondary characters.
"Really, the pivotal role in the film, aside from the two kids, is the grandfather. He's the moral compass in the movie," Rob explained. "Bryce is fortunate that his grandfather comes to live with him at such a critical time, when he's twelve or thirteen. The old man teaches his grandson something that Bryce's own father doesn't understand -- that you can swim out so far from the shore in terms of character that you can't make it back."
Bryce's father, along with a few of his schoolmates, represents the negative polarity in the movie