When it comes to love, who of us didn't grow up with the warning to "guard your heart"?  Whether the impetus was Proverbs 4:23or not, we were warned to be careful when it came to handling or mishandling our innermost being.

Hopefully, once we'd reached adulthood most of us had learned that important lesson.  But back in the days of adolescence, it could be an overwhelming time while experiencing the confusing thoughts and emotions that come when first falling in love.

Director and screenwriter Rob Reiner (The Bucket List, TV's All in the Family) remembers this all too well from his youth, and perhaps that is why the young-adult novel Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen resonated with him when he first read it while on a family vacation years ago. 

"[My son] said, ‘Dad, I think maybe we should read this.'  And so we started reading it together, and I literally flipped over the book," Reiner remembers.  "It was so intelligent and insightful and with such depth and about what kids really go through when they're falling in love for the first time.  And my son Nick said, ‘Dad, I think this would make a great movie.'  And I said, "I think you're right.'"

On the surface, a heartwarming, lower-profile film might seem like an odd career choice from the director of big-budget hits such as The Sure Thing, The Princess Bride and When Harry Met Sally.  But at the heart of it all, it's about the story. 

"I essentially make the same movie with men and women," Reiner explains.  "This is my experience:  that women, girls, are way more emotionally mature than boys generally speaking.  And they kind of know who they are.  They know what they want in life, and the boys are kind of idiots running around trying to figure stuff out.  It's not until they come into contact with the right girl that they can be dragged toward maturity.  [Flipped] is the same story in that way."

Love at First Sight

First love begins at the get-go as seven-year-olds Juli Baker and Bryce Loski meet when his family moves into the house across the street.  She's immediately love-struck and gets lost in his "dazzling" eyes.  Bryce, on the other hand, isn't so sure about this plucky and outspoken new neighbor who is wedging herself into his life and even tries to hold his hand.  He's mildly intrigued, and a little scared to be sure, but he does what he can to politely keep his distance.

Fast forward to the days of junior high and 13-year-old Juli (Madeline Carroll, Swing Vote) is a science whiz, still has confidence to boot and still has a crush on Bryce (Callan McAuliffe, Australian television's Comedy, Inc.), who is now even dreamier and unfortunately for Juli the object of affection of many other female classmates.  So how can she get him to notice her and not those other superficial, popular girls?

Reiner, in collaboration with screenwriter and longtime associate Andrew Scheinman, decided the best way to translate this first crush to the big screen was by changing the setting from modern day (as it is in the book) to about fifty years earlier.  Director of Photography Thomas Del Ruth was also enlisted to create the same nostalgic look and visual warmth as he had on his previous collaboration with Reiner in the 1986 classic, Stand by Me.

"I kind of wanted to strip away all of the distractions that kids have now today with Facebook and texting and all of that," Reiner says of his decision to switch eras, "and just focus purely on the feelings that you have, which are the same throughout time.  [The story] took me back to the feelings that I had.  You know, those very confusing, powerful feelings you have when you first fall in love.  So I set it back in the late ‘50s, early ‘60s because that's when I came of age."