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
"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.