Rewind Review: Flipped (2010)

Introduction

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Flipped (2010)

Flipped is likely a film that has gone unnoticed by many. It has had a weird distribution schedule considering Rob Reiner is its director and its coming from Warner Bros. It hit a few screens, very few, on August 3rd and made a wider release without much fanfare on August 27th. It’s quite unfortunate too because this is great little heartfelt film that is sure to have an emotional resonance with audiences of all ages. Hopefully, once it hits video more people find out about it.

Flipped while telling a seemingly simple story of a protracted relationship between neighbors Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) and Juli (Madeline Carroll)  it tells the tale from the perspective of both the male and the female, here we get the truest illustration of the now cliché that men are from Mars and women are from Venus as they are rarely on the same page. However, their perspective on each of the major events of the tale is very interesting indeed.

While it does seem at first like it is a narrative device which is being used simply for you to get to know the characters it quickly becomes the signature of the film. It is slightly unconventional and so it may not be an unusual reaction to be waiting for a more traditional narrative structure to take hold but eventually I did find myself awaiting the visual flip in which the story switch to the alternate narrator for a chapter and part of what becomes so engaging about it is that you start to identify at some points with either side of the seemingly star-crossed lovers.

Flipped (2010, Castle Rock Entertainment)

It therefore becomes a very emotionally involving experience and to an extent and intellectually stimulating one whereas you see a scene play out and know the opposing party will have their own version of the events and you wonder what that might be.

A great surprise that this film has in store is at the end when their feelings are mutual is when the narrative divide is crossed and they speak in the same segment both of them telling the story. It is a wonderful break from the myopic views as they now are sharing a moment they’ll both remember with equal fondness.

The film in the latter stages does become manage to become very moving and by then the characters have been built so well you want for them and might even feel your eyes stinging with tears.

What is most fitting about the ending is that it is done telling the tale and that is all. There is no “happily ever after” it can be implied if you wish it or not the story at hand was about the beginning not the end so why venture a guess.

Flipped (2010, Castle Rock Entertainment)

In the end the ebb and flow of the film was quite satisfying and there was likely something most people could relate to regardless of the construct of this particular tale or the period it is set in.

This film being a period piece was a decision that Rob Reiner came to and one that was not suggested by the novel and it was a good decision as the story itself does ring a bit more true being set in the past than it would in the modern-day. Particularly due to the connection that Bryce’s grandfather (John Mahoney) and Juli have. While this does allow for a few things that make you wonder if they are accurate like dinner table conversations about salmonella and the prices of things it is ultimately a change for the good.

What is perhaps most interesting in this film in that because it has two protagonist/narrators thus it focuses on two family units and it does manage to give us some understanding as who all these characters are and allows for great dramatic scenes amongst the family units.

Flipped (2010, Castle Rock Entertainment)

The cast is impeccable all the way to the smallest player like Juli’s older brothers who not only look the part of aspiring doo wop singers but sing the part as well. However, the glue that holds the film together can be found in its young leads Callan McAuliffe, who not only convincingly plays a somewhat naive well-intentioned boy but also has no remaining trace of his Australian accent throughout and Madeline Carroll who is like a young Ellen Page.

This is a throughly enjoyable, heartfelt, funny and endearing film that you should make an effort to see.

7/10

Review- I Am Number Four

Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron in I am Number Four (Disney)

Most films that can be said to be bifurcated are strong in the first half and tail off towards the end. Few films fly in the face of the screenwriting axiom that first acts are easy and it’s keeping interest through the second act that is truly a challenge. I am Number Four does do that to an extent but it still fails to salvage itself.

It’s not as if the film doesn’t try, it most certainly does that. A lot of the fault is in trying too hard. It does a lot of legwork in the beginning to establish the players in this tale from John (Alex Pettyfer) to his protector, Henri (Timothy Olyphant), to Number 6 (Teresa Palmer) in small and mysterious, at the time, introductory scene, to Sam, the sidekick with a secret attachment to this world (Callan McAuliffe), Sarah, the love interest that tears at John’s world (Dianna Agron) to Mark (Jake Abel) Sarah’s ex and John’s earthly antagonist.

Not to mention the actual antagonists the Mongadorians, who come from a planet of extra-nostriled Voldemorts. While it’s a good thing that all these pieces do end up fitting the puzzle it takes too long to develop them and then display their purpose. Instead of locking these people into the drama in a meaningful way off the bat they all connect close together in a sort of domino effect that suddenly plunges the film into a hyper-drive from the second half through the end.

This film also leaves a lot details out and questions unanswered. It is ultimately hoping for and promising to answer them in a sequel but that’s really putting the cart before the horse. You can’t be so defensive of your story options in a sequel that you do the film at hand a disservice.

How this happens is that only one extra person of the chosen nine is found, Number 6, Numbers 5 and 7 thru 9 are a mystery. Sam who ends up being integral as his life has been directly affected by Mongadorians gets no closure and moves on with the tale into a supposed sequel. Sam’s character also illustrates another issue with this film in as much as he ends up being the most real, identifiable and well played character. This is great for Callan McAuliffe who gets a chance to prove himself in a bigger profile film than he did in last year’s Flipped, for the film, however, it’s kind of an issue when your male and female lead just look the part, say their lines, hit their marks and not much else is added to the equation through them.

Then, of course, this film also suffers from a mild case of Random Animal Syndrome. As the name suggests its where random animals make too big an impact on a film. First, there’s a gecko trailing John and Henri. We are left to surmise it becomes a dog. A dog who is not a dog rather because it’s rather easy to see early on that it’s a bit too smart and good at navigation to be a regular dog. Then we see what the dog becomes late for an awesome beast showdown, which I’ll admit is kind of cool and the CG is well done but it is slightly SyFy movie like.

There’s also a lot of information withheld not only from our protagonist but also from the audience. We already know this is a Chosen One(s) plot but what we need are the rules and a reason to root for this chosen entity. For any of these plots to work like they do in Star Wars or Harry Potter there needs to be some grounding. Some very strong attachment we can build with the protagonist so we can be truly invested in his/her plight. That doesn’t really exist here at least not in this incarnation of the tale.

I absolutely despise when reviewers get cutesy, so in closing, I just want to state for the record that I am not giving I am Number Four a four for that reason. As my rating scale indicates a score of 4/10 is “A film with a few mistakes too big to overlook.” There are definitely things to like about the film but there are too many things that stop it from getting going and leave you scratching your head. If you walked in halfway through the film you might love it until you saw the excruciatingly slow and un-illuminating first half.

4/10