Boy meets girl and they fall in love. It's a plot that Hollywood loves to revisit, but the new film by director Rob Reiner takes a nostalgic journey back to the pangs, pains and joys of first love. Here's a look at the coming-of-age comedy Flipped.
"Julie Baker? You hate her."
"That's what's so weird. I don't think I do. I can't stop thinking about her."
"You've got it bad, man."
It has finally dawned on teenager Bryce Loski that he really cares for the girl who has lived across the street for most of his young life. Of course, he should have realized there was something special when they first met - as seven-year-olds - the day his family moved in to the neighborhood.
"I couldn't believe it. There I was holding hands with this strange girl. How did I get into this mess?"
From Julie's point of view, that moment changed her life.
"The first day I met Bryce Loski I flipped. It was those eyes …something in those dazzling eyes."
As the kids grow up to become teens, Flipped flips back and forth, showing key moments in their relationship from both points of view. It's a device director and co-writer Rob Reiner takes directly from the popular novel by Wendelin Van Draanen that he adapted for the screenplay.
"I read it with my son (Nick) who was 11 years old …in the fifth grade when he was assigned it by his teachers," Reiner explains. " We read it together and that's when I first became of aware of it. I was completely knocked out by how insightful the writing was. It was clearly written not just for kids but for adults. I got as much, probably more, out of it than even Nick did because I could look back and think about those first feelings that I had. Nick said to me 'Dad, I think this could be a great movie,' and I thought he was absolutely right."
Reiner makes one significant change, moving the story from the book's 1980's setting to the more innocent 1960's. It's the same era in which he put his 1986 hit Stand By Me and Reiner sees Flipped as an ideal companion piece to that nostalgic look at friendships.
"Stand By Me is about those first very powerful feelings of love and connection with your buddies and this is about those first powerful, confusing feelings of falling in love, so it's a boy-girl story," explains Reiner. "That's kind of why I set it back in that period …a couple of reasons. One is that's when I was 12 going on 13, in the late '50's and early '60's, but also because I wanted to focus just on those feelings which, to me, are timeless and universal. Nowadays with texting and Facebook and all of that stuff, it kind of clouds a lot of those feelings that are going on between kids; but they are the same. They are the same now as they were when I was a kid and I wanted to kind of strip all that away, make it very pure and focus on just what they are going through."
The emotions may be timeless, but the 1963 setting puts the story in a narrow window of apparent innocence when the tensions of the Cuban missile crisis had gone and Americans were not yet shattered by President Kennedy's assassination. On the horizon were the civil rights movement, the rise of feminism and the Vietnam War. Rebecca DeMornay, who plays the teenage boy's mother, says the Loski family …and her character in particular …struggle with the changing times.
"The character was a very, very repressed woman who really was trying to keep a perfect façade together and convince herself that everything was good if she just looked good and the house looked good and her children's grades were good and the car looked good," Demornay says. "Everyone in the movie learns something and she learns that it really wasn't actually all worth it."
Australian newcomer Callan McAuliffe, 15, co-stars as love-struck Bryce; the object of his unexpected affections, Julie, is played by 14-year-old Madeline Carroll, who thinks today's teens will "get it".
"I think it will be cool for them to be able to see how it was back then," Carroll says. "Kids are so obnoxious nowadays. I really didn't realize until I read this script …and it wasn't just a script; people actually lived in those days. They were so much nicer and pleasant to be around. I think it will be cool for them to watch, just to see how it was back then."
"I went to bed that night thinking of the kiss that might have been. I mean it was clear he had feelings for me, but he was just too shy to show them. My mother said boys were like that."
Flipped was filmed in a tree-lined suburban neighborhood of Ann Arbor, Michigan. The cast includes Penelope Ann Miller and Aidan Quinn as Julie's struggling parents; Anthony Edwards is Bryce's conservative father at odds with John Mahoney as the widowed grandfather who has moved in with the family. Director Rob Reiner weaves popular music of the time throughout Flipped, as he did almost 25 years ago in Stand By Me.