Rob Reiner: Directing Hearts in Motion in Flipped
- Wednesday, August 25, 2010
According to Reiner, nothing else needed to be changed when adapting the story for film, and so he utilized the same he said-she said convention as in the book. Through voice-overs, Juli describes her interactions with Bryce from her point of view, and then the same scene plays out again from Bryce's perspective. It could have been risky to replicate on film, and Reiner did have second thoughts before doing so.
"We were a little nervous about doing it in the film," he admits. "But then I realized it worked so well in the book, and it certainly kept my attention and captivated me. I thought, Why couldn't it work in the film? And I think it does, because just when you think you know what happened, you'll see [Juli's] point of view and it's completely different. Boys and girls look at things in totally different ways."
Learning by Example
But the differences don't stop there. The teens' parents interpret life in totally different ways as well. Viewers soon discover this as the story develops further, beyond the facades of each family home and into the hearts of adults who appear one way initially, but soon are revealed for who they really are inside.
In the Loski household, everything looks perfectly appointed. From the shiny family car to the home's meticulously manicured lawn, to the stylishly coiffed mother and successfully employed father, the Loskis have got it all. Or do they?
"You've got this post-war dream of living in this split-level house and they've got everything," says Reiner. "But underneath there's this kind of disharmony, and there's an anger that the father has because he's put all of his values in the wrong place—in material places."
Over at the Baker's rental home, things couldn't look more the opposite. The yard is dead, the bushes are overgrown and Mr. Baker's dilapidated pick-up is an eyesore in the driveway. Out back, chickens and their ramshackle coop have taken over the yard. But what serves as the canvas for this picture of poverty is a family rich in integrity and love for one another.
"They have these incredibly strong, powerful family values where they really value the right things," Reiner shares. "Love, family, sticking up for each other, and the parents have a really good relationship—not without problems, but it's solid."
But that's not what Bryce sees. As a teenage boy who's wired for the visual and also being influenced by the thinking of his small-minded father, Bryce decides that the Baker family isn't good enough. And, by association, maybe neither is Juli.
Look a Little Closer
"Luckily for Bryce, his grandfather comes to live with him because the grandmother has passed away," explains Reiner. "And this guy is able to be the kind of moral compass for Bryce and … put him on the right path."
In an interesting twist, one day Grandpa Chet Duncan (John Mahoney, Dan in Real Life, TV's Frasier) gets up from his chair and crosses the street to forge a sweet friendship with Juli, after Bryce makes fun of the Baker family's lawn right in front of her.
Ever the industrious worker and problem solver, Juli has decided to help out her family (and their neighborhood image) by taking over the lawn herself, and she is eyeing the overgrown hedges when Chet shows up with his clippers to help. Over the course of the lawn reno and redesign, Chet gets to know Juli for who she really is and even tells her that she reminds him of his late wife.
Later, he encourages Bryce to take another, closer look at Juli and reconsider the changes in his heart: "Some of us get dipped in flat, some in satin, some in gloss. But every once in awhile you find someone who's iridescent. And when you do, nothing will ever compare."
"Even though it's a story about kids," Reiner summarizes, "it's also a story about family. I think ultimately older people, parents and grandparents, will get more out of it than kids. But hopefully, you'll be a little bit refreshed to see something where you can see yourself in the movie.
"You know, it's like I say: ‘I like to make movies about human beings that live on earth.' And hopefully you'll see something you can connect with."
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Flipped is rated PG (for language and some thematic material) and stars Madeline Carroll, Callan McAuliffe, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller and Aidan Quinn. It releases in select theaters on Friday, August 27, 2010.
Photos © Warner Bros. Pictures. Used with permission.
For more information about Flipped, please visit www.flipped-movie.com.
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