We all remember the first person of the opposite sex that started us thinking that girls did not, in fact, have cooties or that boys, despite conventional wisdom, were all gross. Suddenly overnight someone in particular – maybe the girl the other guys have been teasing you about during recess because you sit next to her in class – appears in a different light. I’m not talking about physical development, which is sure to catch the eye, but about the natural sense that maybe she’s nice and you’d like to play with her more. Most all of us have probably had that moment and carry around the memory of that person in a very special place in our minds – even if the memories are tinged with embarrassment – regardless of what the rest of our lives have brought us.
Tapping in to that feeling is Flipped, the new movie from director Rob Reiner. Set in the 1960’s The story of Flipped follows Bryce, a young boy who’s moving in to a new neighborhood and in to a house right across the street from Juli, who is immediately smitten. He, though, wants nothing to do with girls in general much less Juli, who he only sees as embarrassing him. Through the next six years this dynamic continues until, just as Juli is set to give up on him, Bryce begins to see the light. Hence the title.
Reiner has lost some of his sure-fire edge in the last decade, but it shouldn’t be forgotten just how hard he was swinging the bat in the 80’s and much of the 90’s. Out of the the 14 movies he’s directed since 1984’s This is Spinal Tap only three or four are less than solid triples and only one is a complete strikout. Before 2000 he was batting about .800. And this sort of movie, with its heavy reliance on sentimentality, should be like a curveball that hangs about belt high for him.
No, I haven’t been watching a lot of baseball recently. Why?
The movie’s poster is all about creating a feeling of idyllic nostalgia. The two kids sit on a tree branch looking out over a picturesque sunset behind a rural setting. Everything is perfectly in place and everything is perfect, just the way it is in the rust of that first pre-teen love. That’s accentuated by the copy above the title, which states “You never forget your first love.” This design is actually perfectly appropriate for that line since this sort of idealized version of what that’s like is exactly how we *do* remember our first love as being all soft-tones and rounded edges and not messy at all.
The poster wisely sticks with The Bucket List, Stand By Me (another look back in nostalgia) and When Harry Met Sally as Reiner’s list of ccomplishment. It trades off those movies without naming Reiner specifically, presumably because he’s lost some name recognition whereas those movies have not.
The first trailer does a great deal of expository setup, letting the audience know what’s going to be going on with the main characters. We meet our protagonist, a young man who’s moving into a new neighborhood in the 1950s and who immediately is eyed by a nice young girl his own age on the same street.
Through the awkward years in grade school into middle school these two grow up around each other until eventually his hormones kick in and, somewhere in the junior high years, he starts to notice her as much as she’s always noticed him. So the trailer shows clearly this is about growing up and the first rush of childhood love. That, coupled with the fact that it’s coming from director Reiner lets the audience know more or less what they’re in for here.
The movie’s official website opens with the trailer playing automatically so it’s alright to sit and rewatch it.
“About the Film” just has a synopsis of the movie’s story that treads the same ground as the trailer without too much more context or information.
The “Video” section starts off with the Trailer but you’ll also find two TV Spots there.
“Have you Flipped?” is a little 10 question quiz that is designed to see if you have a crush on someone or not. And the “Unforgettable Love” section lets you carve your initials into a tree with a little heart around them, an image you can then share with your Twitter or Facebook friends.
Unfortunately that’s it. There’s no cast or crew information, no downloads or anything else.
The Facebook page for the movie has updates on advertising, promotions and publicity as well as the usual videos and photos and such. Based on the Wall comments there’s a built in audience for the movie of people who have read and enjoyed the source novel
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
Two or three TV spots have been created for the movie. All feature footage that’s been seen in the trailer and make it clear the film is about true love back in the idyllic 1960s. They also all play up the history Reiner has with making crowd-pleasing movies that have staying power with audiences, especially invoking Stand By Me since it’s the most thematically similar entry in his oeuvre.
I haven’t seen any other advertising and am not aware of any cross-promotions or other outside marketing help.
Media and Publicity
Following the release of the first batch of marketing materials the press coverage of the movie focused on how it was a return to form of a sort (Los Angeles Times, 7/5/10) for Reiner to his glory days of the 1980’s, when he had an incredible string of not only commercially but artistically successful movies. Not that most of Reiner’s movies are high-art, but they are well made and enjoyable.
The unconventional campaign run by Warner Bros. for the movie, a campaign that included word-of-mouth screenings in the Midwest and endorsements from groups such as the Parents Television Council, was designed to be very much outside the mainstream and appeal to audiences ranging from pre-teens to senior citizens (LAT, 8/5/10). Running such a campaign was more than a little unusual for a studio that has publicly declared to be relying on event movies and, as the story points out, it seems more than a little odd – though welcome – that the movie got made in the first place.
While I’m disappointed by the website – it’s stark even by recent studio offering standards, likely because efforts were better put elsewhere – I really like the trailer, poster and TV spots for the movie and feel like they sell the movie very effectively. The nostalgia factor is turned up to 11, obviously, and Reiner being in the director’s chair means you more or less know what you’re getting. But those are all good things. We need more sweet, gentle stories in today’s world. So people like me who are clamoring for such things are being sold a movie that delivers, meaning it should hopefully find some level of success.