Last Updated: March 23, 2012By Tags: , , ,

Is this all that I have to look forward to?

Three or four decades of looking back to the good old days? While I remain at an age when I can effectively deny the presence of gray hairs, I’m still displeased with this future. When I’m sixty, will I look back or will I look forward? Rob Reiner’s Flipped doesn’t help.

This 1960s puppy love story plays as if someone hacked all the locks on the cages holding the lost episodes of “The Wonder Years.” Now they’re scurrying around the Boomer Porn laboratory. Hopefully someone can stop them before they reproduce.

It would be one thing if Flipped were an act of sunny but genuine nostalgia. But there are enough out-of-place references to seem like somebody else’s nostalgia. For instance, no one commonly used terms like “visually challenged” or anything challenged until the 1980s at the earliest. Is this real nostalgia? Or false nostalgia? Calculated nostalgia? Marketable nostalgia?

From the first shoo-bop Fifties moment that little girl Julie (Madeline Carroll) falls in love with little neighbor boy Bryce (Callan McAuliffe) we know we’re in for a lot of “I’m never talking to him again” tween drama.

It balances the beam a little better while telling Julie’s story. She’s freaky but spunky, climbing trees to keep them from being cut down. John Mahoney, best known as the dad on Frasier, pitches in a nice supporting role as the young boy’s grandfather who takes a shine to the female neighbor. That said, Bryce really is a spineless little corporate nobody in training.

Romance of a lifetime? I seriously doubt this one’s surviving the sixties. He’s headed for a cubicle or a car lot. She’s headed for the free love commune in “Easy Rider.” But that’s for parents to know and kids to find out later.

I suspect Flipped will provide a harmless, even modestly pleasing departure for fans of the Wendelin Van Draanen children’s novel upon which it is based. It sells the basic tropes of pre-teen sensibility and teaches a few valuable lessons. But it never departs much from the expected.