I've made my fair share of blogging buddies over the past couple of years. One of my newer ones, Movie Movie Blog Blog, came up with a great idea for a blogathon. He calls it "In Like a Lion Out Like a Lamb." At first, I was a bit confused by the title, but it makes plenty of sense when he explains it. You can click here for the full explanation, but the short version is that this blogathon is all about movies that you thought you would hate going in, but wound up liking. I think I've got one.
One of the things I pride myself on as a movie buff is objectivity. For me, it starts even before the film does. I try my absolute best to watch whatever comes my way, regardless of who's in it, who directed, what genre it is, or what it's about. That's the easy part. The hard part is going into all these things with no expectations, one way or the other. Since I am human, I think, it's an impossible task. I mean, when I sat down a while back to see the latest Godzilla, I had my heart set on actually seeing some Godzilla. I couldn't help myself. Sigh. Don't get me started on what I did see.
Who brings a film to my attention also colors expectations. If my one and only, true blue, brother from another mother brings it to me, I know it's either action, sci-fi, fantasy, or some combination of the three, and there's a good chance I'll lose track of the number of explosions. When one of my biological brothers recommends something, I'm pretty sure I'll be watching some 'hood comedy and/or crime flick. If my daughter starts telling me I just HAVE to see a movie, it's likely to be an overwrought romance based on a young adult novel where the fate of the world lies with teenagers, like The Fault in Our Divergent Games Spectacular Now at Twilight, or something to that effect. These have largely been a miss with me so I can only go into these viewings with trepidation and a prayer for brevity.
The latest of her "must see" movies was a little film from 2010 I'd never heard of called Flipped. To be honest, it starts smack dab in the middle of the lane in which I do not wish to ride. We hear a young boy narrating about a time when he was even younger. He's specifically telling the story of the day he moved into the neighborhood. Turns out the boy's name is Bryce (Callan McAuliffe). Aside from the move itself, the thing that marks that particular day as remarkable is that this is when he met Juli (Madeline Carroll), the pushy little girl who lives across the street.
We weren't even five minutes in and I was ready to take a knee. This was not promising, at all. However, it was something my little girl had been bugging me for weeks about watching with her. Even though I had given her my word that I would, my mind began searching for a way out. The first thing that popped into my head was making this nap time. Of course, that would only mean delaying the inevitable pain as my daughter would surely make me watch it again when I was more rested. There were no urgent situations in need of my attention. The only thing to do was to cross my fingers that the DVD we were watching would malfunction. Barring that, or some other act of God, I was stuck. I sat on my couch, trying to sink into its cushions. The lingering hope I clung to was that my entire body would liquefy so I would be absorbed by those cushions, thus escaping my fate. With that, I resigned myself to soldiering through it. I grabbed one of the couch's pillows to bite down on if the pain became unbearable.
A funny thing happened as I was preparing for the worse. Flipped got good. The first thing that made my ears perk up a bit was the switch in narrator. It wasn't like similar switches in most movies where some new person just picks up where their predecessor left off. In this case, Juli not only takes over, she restarts the story. She goes over everything Bryce had already covered, except she does it from her point of view. This means that in addition to opposing viewpoints, we get to know about her home life. In turn, we get to know her better than we ever could had Bryce been our only tour guide on this little trip through adolescence.
The story proceeds with Bryce and Juli taking turns giving their take on the events of their eighth grade year. It is very fascinating seeing how two different people perceive and are affected by the same events. Yes, this is a teenage love story, but the storytelling device in play helps the film rise above that cesspool of triteness. It gives u what feels like something fresh. Then, it adds in some wonderful characters on both sides and gives both of our main characters a rich home life. We don't just get to know these people, we want to know them. Then, of course, there are the twists and turns that a story such as this demands. Most of them work marvelously and keep the story going.
As the film progressed I found myself more and more engrossed in what was happening. I really cared what was next in the lives of Bryce and Juli. I also cared what happened with various members of their families. Admittedly, I like Juli's folks a lot more than Bryce's, but the point remains. I cared. When it was over, I'd watched a film I genuinely liked. That's more than I thought would ever be possible given where Flipped started. I had been so ready to hate this movie, but it softened my hard heart. The mighty roar with which I started Flipped had been reduced to mere bleat. I came in like a lion, but went out like a lamb.