Rob Reiner's new film 'Flipped' moving up into the summer
I'm not taking any credit for this myself, but Warner Bros. has been getting such an enthusiastic reception from its early screenings of the new Rob Reiner film, "Flipped," that the studio is moving the movie up from its original Sept. 17 release date to sometime in early August.
I saw the film the other night and was knocked out. It's a great return to form for Reiner, who co-wrote and directed the story about the topsy-turvy relationship between two mismatched eighth graders set in the 1950s. Maybe it's the period, maybe it's the sweetness of the story, but it certainly took me back to the early years of Reiner's career, when he was making such affecting films as "Stand By Me" and "The Princess Bride."
"Flipped" is loaded with nice performances, both from its two young leads -- Madeline Carroll and Callan McAuliffe -- as well as a host of character actors like John Mahoney, Aidan Quinn and Penelope Ann Miller who fill out the ensemble cast. But when I called up Warners chief Alan Horn to tell him how much I liked the movie, I teased him by saying that of all the performances, the one that was sure to get the most attention was by the young actress who plays the relatively minor role of McAuliffe's older sister.
Horn could tell where I was going right away. The older sister part is played by Cody Horn, his daughter, who is an NYU student, model and aspiring actress. It's no secret that Horn and Reiner are old friends, but the studio chief was quick to assure me that he had nothing to do with Cody getting the part, having scrupulously avoided doing anything to promote her career.
As it turns out, Cody had a part in "Twelve," an upcoming Joel Schumacher film. In the course of making the film, she had befriended a young actor who was auditioning for Reiner for the part of one of Carroll's older brothers in "Flipped." Reiner was flying the actor out to Los Angeles last year, so Cody decided to travel with him and surprise her mother for Mother's Day. She went with the actor to Reiner's offices at Castle Rock, where her father had worked years before.
"Rob saw Cody and asked her if she wanted to read for a part, which she did," Horn explained to me. "Afterward, Rob called me up and told me that she'd had a great audition and he thought she was really right for the [older sister] role. I said to Rob, 'Do what's right for the movie. I know we're friends, but if she's not absolutely right for the part, you shouldn't cast her.'"
Reiner brushed aside Horn's concerns, taking the position that all directors take when they need to get studio approval for something they want. "Rob stopped me and said, 'Wait a minute. I'm the one who likes her in the part. Don't you want my movie to work?'" Horn recalls. "So of course, I told him that if you're sure it's the right thing for the movie, go ahead. I'm just happy we got to make the movie. I like the material and its message and it really tapped into the kind of values that I like seeing being portrayed in films. And the music is great. I guess there aren't that many Everly Brothers fans who are still around, but I'm one of them."
Horn and I haven't always seen eye to eye on the quality of Warners releases -- "Clash of the Titans" simply being the most recent example -- but I'm happy to agree with him about "Flipped." It's the kind of film you'll want to take your 12-year-old to see this summer, not just as a respite from the noisy superhero adventures, but because it reminds kids to look past outward appearances -- it's what's inside that counts. And yes, judging from her performance, Cody Horn got the part on her own merits. She has a great scene in the film, telling off her closed-minded father. Meanwhile, I get the feeling that she has a real-life dad who's especially proud of her too.
Photo: Rob Reiner at the ACE Eddie Awards in February in Beverly Hills. Credit: Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images