In this heart-wrenching coming-of-age story, Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) and Juli Baker (Madeline Carroll) encounter common struggles of the same event with different perspectives. Flipped was adapted from a stand-alone novel by Wendalin Van Draanen in 2010.
This story starts off with a voice-over from Bryce, which already catches the audience’s attention. One could already tell that this story wasn’t going to have a typical coming-of-age plotline, seeing as how most coming-of-age stories are lead by a female protagonist. The first words heard onscreen were from Bryce saying, “All I ever wanted was for Juli Baker to leave me alone.” Immediately, it shifts the focus to a girl who has not yet seen or heard. Then, it builds the suspenseful question that is constantly answered then re-answered multiple times throughout the entire film. Who is Juli Baker?
It may seem like Bryce’s story in the beginning, but his desired avoidance of a girl is not what drives this plot forward. It’s the girl whom his head is constantly wrapped around, whether it be positively or negatively. It’s the small acts of kindness and forgiveness that Juli Baker gives to all things, animals and humans alike, that made this film sell $24.3 million at the box office opening weekend.
While Juli was the “glossy, iridescent” jewel that everyone noticed, except Bryce, I feel it is important to give dues where dues are deserved. Being around a bitter, spiteful father, a dumb friend, and a grandfather who never really guided him until he saw Juli in the newspaper, I would have never expected Bryce to overcome his own barriers at such a young age. It says a lot about him. He made a plethora of mistakes, like getting on the bus while Juli was screaming for help to save her beloved Sycamore tree or lying to her then throwing her eggs away, or even telling her that her yard looked unsanitary, but he ended up becoming the guy Juli thought he was the entire film. Bryce’s father was jealous that Juli’s dad was truly happy, and he was jealous that Juli’s brothers were in a band, something he wasn’t able to pursue. He spoke bad things about them, constantly putting his own shortcomings about himself onto Bryce about another family. If Juli was the saintly protagonist in this movie, then clearly the father was the bitter antagonist, who could blame his dumb friend, Garret, for his insensitive and heinous comments throughout the movie? He was essentially a child. The same leniency can not be given to his father. If his father was the antagonist then his grandfather is the mentor. Giving the newspaper with the article about Juli was just the beginning for Bryce’s emotional journey.
Juli Baker chased and chased Bryce for years with no inkling of reciprocated feelings or even kindness from him. The day that her chasing was finally rewarded was when she stopped. She decided that he wasn’t worth what she freely gave him all those years prior: credit. While there is nothing wrong with a childish crush, there is a problem with Juli assuming that Bryce was better than he was because of “those dazzling brown eyes.” This is a prime example of how attraction and love can intertwine, negatively in Juli’s case. She made assumption’s about her crush for the majority of the film and every time she was proven wrong. It wasn’t until she took a step back and truly analyzed him, that she was able to see him clearly for the first time in years. Her first words spoken were, “the first day I met Bryce Loski, I flipped.” Did she know that she inadvertently meant flipped positions? That instead of simply being the chasee and acting in her femininity, that she instead became the chaser? Probably not, as she was a very young girl in a film set in 1957. Why were her parents not as involved in this as they should have been? Why did she not receive any advice from her much older brothers? They were lacking in more ways than one, as all families do. By the time Juli literally ran from Bryce, something in him clicked and he then “flipped.” He saw her worth and finally stepped into the shoes of becoming a promising young man ready to run after his girl… literally. He chased her all the way home.
But it wasn’t going to be that easy. He started doing everything he should have been doing in the beginning. He called her frequently, he stopped by her house often, and when that wasn’t enough, he had to actually use his brain and woo her, which he did! All the time he spent trying to avoid Juli, he subconsciously learned things from her, compassion being the main attribute. He got permission to plant a Sycamore tree for her in their yard. And that, ladies and gentleman, says it all. Considering the symbolism of that tree for the film was extremely significant and the meaning it had to Juli during the film, I think Mr. Loski might even learn a thing or two from his son.
This movie goes to show that the “Ride or die,” “Ole reliable,” and “Miss dependable” are less and less likely to land their dream guy. It wasn’t until boundaries were set, false personas were eradicated, and self-worth was established that Juli wound up with the guy she obsessed over for years. It is true, a girl can’t force a guy to do anything, no matter how hard they try. Guys will always have the power to access and start the relationship, but the women have control over… just about everything else. Her only role should have been to sit and wait until he was ready to pursue her. He was living his life for his father, his friends, his image, but never for himself. When he finally admitted what he wanted, shook off his baggage, got clear about his heart’s desire, then he was able to make a decision and act on it. He did it all because he understood that the Juli was, and always has been, the most extravagant prize. I’m just glad, but not unsurprised, that Juli accepted his advances and started anew with him.