Four and a Half Minutes with Rob Reiner

Rob Reiner on the red carpet for the premiere of "Flipped" in Indianapolis. Photo by Mark Lee

When Rob Reiner appeared at a late-morning Heartland Film

Festival press conference on Monument Circle a few weeks ago, Mother Nature had

mistakenly set the Sun on "broil." It was thick, sticky hot and everyone

assembled for the event was trying to forge ahead cheerfully despite the fact

that we were all being cooked. Reiner had an even more daunting task –

trying to keep himself cool enough so that he wouldn't look sweaty during the

post-press conference TV interviews.

Rob Reiner, son of comedy legend and The Dick Van Dyke Show creator Carl Reiner, burst onto the national

scene as an actor in the '70s as Mike "Meathead" Stivic

on All in the Family and later

established himself as a director with films including This is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met

Sally, Misery and A Few Good Men.

His last movie was the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman crowd-pleaser, The Bucket List.

Flipped, based on

the popular young adult novel by Wendelin Van Draanen, is a coming-of-age tale that follows a girl and a

boy from grade school into their teens, flipping back and forth to show the

evolving relationship from both of their perspectives. Reiner discovered Flipped when his son brought the book

home so they could read it together. Turned out that Dad enjoyed the tale of

young romance as much as his son and when the boy suggested it would make a

good movie, the process began. Getting a gentle film like this made in Hollywood

was not easy, but with Reiner's influence and cinematic track record, he was

able to pull it off.

While the book is set in contemporary times, Reiner opted to

set the movie in the 1950s. He stated that it reminded him of his own childhood

and he thought it reasonable to make the change. More importantly, he wanted to

remove the story from the technology that is ever present in the lives of most

contemporary youth. When we met in the box office of the Circle Theatre, taking

blessed, blessed refuge from the heat, we discussed the difference between

being young then and being young now.

As anyone who participated in the '60s can attest, there was

a fundamental difference between the people who grew up before the social

revolution of that decade and those who came of age during or after the

cultural shift. I wondered if there was a similar shift between the boomer

generation and the generation growing up in the midst of the technological

explosion now.

"I do think there is a big shift," said Reiner, patting his

brow. "I mean, there was a time when we were growing up when they didn't have TiVo and all of those things and families would sit around

and watch – even though I was in the first generation to grow up watching

television, which was a big technological advance and arguably the biggest

until the Internet came along – we'd watch things together, as a family,


"Now, you see kids, you know — you're in your house

and you're sitting in your family room and one of your kids is on Facebook, the other one is texting

somebody, and then the TV is on ... And I think that, even though the

technology has made communications quicker, I don't know if it's made

communications better. I don't think that people are as connected as they were.

They're connected in a certain way, but I don't know if they're as emotionally

connected as they used to be when we were kids growing up. So I think there is

a tremendous shift."

So what about the young actors on the set? Did they seem to

notice the difference between their world and the one into which you had placed


"They did," Reiner said. "They didn't have their cell

phones, they weren't texting. Kids today, they're

constantly on their phones texting each other. And

that's one of the reasons I wanted to strip that away, because there are a lot

of distractions now, but the feelings that you have when you first fall in love

are the same, regardless of whether they're in the '50s, '60s, '70s or today.

The feelings are the same, but there are a lot of distractions now. I wanted to

strip all that away and just focus on those pure feelings you have."

Out of the window, I could see a handler from Reiner's camp

heading our way, her eyes fixed on Reiner as intently as a great white shark on a bikini-clad teenage swimmer. Before he was snatched away to do TV interviews, I

asked the filmmaker to tell NUVO readers something special – an inside

joke or reference, maybe – that they could look for while watching Flipped.

"One of the things they can look for is that the two

families in the movie live on Bonnie Meadow Lane, which is the street I grew up

on – 48 Bonnie Meadow Road, and the Petries

from The Dick Van Dyke Show lived on

148 Bonnie Meadow Road, so they might check that out."

And with that, the handler arrived and Reiner and I

exchanged goodbyes while she tugged on his sleeve. I checked my watch and it was

just under four and a half minutes since he had sat down with me. From my spot in the box office, I watched through the window as he stood in front of a camera and spoke with a TV reporter. Reiner looked cool.

Flipped opens next Friday.


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