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I was invited to the prescreening of the new Rob Reiner film, Flipped, to debut in early August. I have to admit I was delighted and flattered at the opportunity to review this film. In preparation for the prescreening I read through everything on the film, from the synopsis, its trailer, its director, to its actors, and anything else to which my brief research lead me…, the source for the film, the BOOK! Flipped, by Wendelin Van Draanen was published by Alfred A. Knopf Books in early October 2001. Reiner first came across the book when his young son brought it home as a reading assignment, they decided to read it together and the imaginative process began from this father-son experience. They both appreciated the cultured writing and developed a unique connection to the story and characters that spoke to each of their levels, one, as a young boy possibly avoiding that first love, and the other, as a father having a vivid memory of his first love. Staying faithful to the book, Reiner began work on the screenplay and production of the film.

Naturally, being a cultural advocate I immediately searched for the cultural theme of the film, if any. At first preview, I was not expecting a strong cultural presence, at least not the cultural presence that usually attracts my attention. However, I immediately understood what Reiner referred to regarding the depth of the writing. Through a romantic comedy fostered by youth, Flipped is able to relate with a diverse audience. From the young pre-teens through adults and certainly with those that have reached an age of full life experience passing on valuable, opportune life lessons to youth. The parenting culture is strong and significant in the film.  One of Reiner’s preferred lines from the film said by grandfather Chet, speaks to the values that all parents should share with their children, “I hate to see you swim out so far you can’t swim back,”  and calibrates the moral compass that youths need during their formative years and helps to guide them through life’s journey with others. Another favorite, also shared by the cultured grandfather, describes the diversity of each person’s glow, a special one being the “iridescent glow.” It is the glow from that sparkling being whose inner beauty glows brighter and longer.

The parent connections are unmistakable, the treasured memories that make us who we are, the regrettable decisions from which we have learned, and the life experiences to be shared with our children, all form part of this film’s cultural message. The parenting culture is one that is timeless and universal, certainly a part of human development that deserves recognition and deeper thought than usually given.

Make sure to save a date for Flipped, scheduled for release to theaters across the US on August 6, 2010. True to the young adult book by Wendelin Van Draanen, book and film must go on your calendar. So whether you’ve read it or are planning on reading it, the film will prove to be an endearing addition to your “seen it” list, along with your “read it” list.

Synopsis

When second-graders Bryce and Juli first meet, Juli knows its love. But Bryce isn’t so sure. Girl-phobic and easily embarrassed, young Bryce does everything he can to keep his outspoken wannabe girlfriend at arm’s length… for the next six years, which isn’t easy since they go to the same school and live across the street from each other.  But if Juli finally looks away, will it be Bryce’s turn to be dazzled?

Flipped stars Madeline Carroll (“Swing Vote”) as Juli, and Callan McAuliffe (Australian TV’s “Comedy, Inc.”) as Bryce. Rebecca De Mornay (“Wedding Crashers”) and Anthony Edwards (“ER”) star as Bryce’s parents, Patsy and Steven Loski; and Emmy Award nominee John Mahoney (“Frasier”) as his grandfather, Chet Duncan.  Penelope Ann Miller (TNT’s “Men of a Certain Age”) and Emmy Award nominee Aidan Quinn (HBO’s “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”) star as Juli’s parents, Trina and Richard Baker; and Kevin Weisman (“Alias”) as her Uncle Daniel.

Rated PG by the MPAA for language and some thematic material.

Added Note

It is not surprising to find out that in 1998 Rob Reiner chaired a campaign for the California Children and Families Initiative, which created First 5 California, a program of early childhood development services, including parenting programs. He served as Chairman of the State Commission of First 5 California from 1999 to 2006. The initiative included programs for parents and young children from prenatal to five years of age on topics of relationships, health, child safety, pre-school education, reading and more. To date this initiative continues to help young families in California through parent and child education. “Learning to read, in order to read to learn” is how Reiner best explained the work being done through First 5 California.