Bryce Loski (Callan McAuliffe) and Juli Baker (Morgan Lily) confront each other in the neighborhood. Bryce holds a bag of eggs hatched by Juli's chickens that he secretly dumps out every time she gives them to his family. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Arts and Entertainment

Review: ‘Flipped’ reinforces superficial romance ideologies with cliché narratives

The puppy love displayed in the 2010 film “Flipped” is a bit one-dimensional and immature. Rather than looking at surface level qualities, it’s important to value inward characteristics to determine if a romantic partner is “the one.”
<a href="" target="_self">Emily Li</a>

Emily Li

March 11, 2022
Perhaps the most common way to start a romantic tale, the idea of “love at first sight” instigates a sweet motivation for the lovers’ relationship to develop. However, due to its popularity, this theme grew cliché and lacked creativity value as writers use it repetitively over time. Nevertheless, many works still adopt this classic concept as part of their narrative’s drive, and among them includes the 2010 film “Flipped.”

A short recap

“Flipped” follows two distinct perspectives: one from Bryce Loski (played by Callan McAuliffe), and the other from Juli Baker (played by Madeline Carroll). The movie first displays a segment of the story and its narration from Bryce’s point of view, and then reviews the same section through Julie’s lens; the alternation continues until the film is over.

When Bryce first moves into Juli’s neighborhood when they were second-graders, their interaction instantly instigates Juli’s feelings for the boy. She is still completely in love with him during their elementary school years, but Bryce finds her obsession very irritating. Interestingly, things take a turn like what the title suggests, and Bryce begins to develop feelings for Juli while the latter re-evaluates her thoughts about the boy. The movie ends on a sweet note as they eventually reconcile.

The Sycamore Tree

Although the movie embodies the dream of a perfect childhood romance that lays buried in everyone’s hearts, the characters lack depth in their motive and development, which makes this love story a bit superficial. The film’s narration of the story from two different perspectives provides a great opportunity to dive further into both Bryce and Julie’s inner worlds, but unfortunately, their interests toward each other only stay at the surface.

For instance, Juli still tirelessly tries to interact with Bryce even after he is disrespectful towards her love for the big sycamore tree, evident when he replies “if by ‘beautiful’ you mean ‘unbelievably ugly’, then yes, I would agree” when she asks for his opinion about the tree. He never appreciated Juli’s presence, no matter whether it is declining her offer to view the world on the sycamore tree’s branches or judging her family’s front yard.

When Juli asks him to stay and help her protest against cutting the tree down, he does not understand how much the tree means to her and leaves anyway. However, despite the fact that this male lead does not have the capacity to empathize with her inner world, Juli nonetheless obsesses over Bryce’s appearance and his “dazzling eyes;” her attraction to superficial appearance obstructs her judgment of whether Bryce is truly the most suitable for her.

Juli Baker (played by Morgan Lily) admires the view from atop the sycamore tree. She treasures the tree’s breathtaking beauty, but unfortunately few people in her town appreciate it as much as she does. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

The eggs

“Flipped” did well by later making Juli realize that Bryce is not the match for her after he throws away her eggs and cowardly agrees with his friend, who talked badly about her in the library. However, upon seeing him during the basket boy auction, she eventually falls for Bryce once again because of his looks.

Juli’s character develops when she had the epiphany of looking beyond “that one boy,” who clearly did not understand and care for her, but her thoughts about him reverted simply because he showed a liking for her near the end of the movie. Bryce’s dad also holds discrimination against Juli’s family because of their constantly unkempt lawn and Juli’s mentally and physically unstable uncle, a sentiment that he contemptuously displays openly even when Juli’s family has dinner with his family.

Although Bryce finally appreciates the sycamore tree’s significance to Juli and plants another one with her, this realization only constitutes a small portion of the film. “Flipped” gives in to not only the cliché of “love at first sight,” but it also adapts the overused ending of “the main characters’ reconciliation”; while a sweet resolution is not a bad concept, this film arrives at this conclusion too abruptly and justifies Bryce’s character, which has too little development.

The movie tries to push most of Bryce’s blame toward his dad, insinuating that his thoughts are mostly influenced by the prejudiced ones of his father, but his grandpa has always been sympathetic towards Juli’s family; this means that Bryce still has a positive source of guidance in his household, but instead, he chose to adopt his father’s judgments. He only became alert and changed his feelings when Juli begins to slip away from him.

At the end of the movie, Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) and Juli (Morgan Lily) settle their conflicts and plant a new sycamore tree together. Although this resolution concludes the film on a sweet note, it undermines Juli’s character development as she reverts to her superficial judgment of Bryce and forgives him even after he has hurt her multiple times. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

Teenager’s perspective

Compared to “Pride and Prejudice,” Flipped adheres more to typical teenager romance perhaps because of the two main characters’ age. The story illustrates the pure stirring of heart without too much reason or elaboration, which is a common childhood sensation. At the same time, however, this theme also makes room for cliched plots and understated character development, which emanates superficiality.

For peers around my age, attraction is largely based on appearance while many fail to understand each other beyond the surface before hastily confessing and dating. From a middle/high schooler’s perspective, the film’s plot may be bearable, but with a more sensible outlook, the ideas displayed in “Flipped” are a bit one-dimensional and immature. Puppy love may appeal to younger audiences, but one needs to eventually look past outward qualities and instead assess inward characteristics that truly determine if they are “the one.”