“His hair smelled just like watermelon.” – Madeline Carroll as Juli Baker
PG, 1 hr. 30 min. Directed by: Rob Reiner Starring: Callan McAuliffe, Madeline Carroll, Aidan Quinn
What It’s (Nostalgically) About: Juli meets Bryce. She falls in love. Bryce thinks Juli is annoying. After some growing up time and illuminating events, they flip. Suddenly, Bryce feels like he might be in love with Juli and Juli thinks that maybe Bryce isn’t all that she thought he was.
REVIEW: I am nostalgic by nature. Things that take me back to times that were make me feel delicious inside. Rob Reiner (director of a similar throwback Stand By Me) milks golden childhood for all its worth, and greatly succeeds in the the 60s The Wonder Years feeling of wistfulness. Reiner collects classic tunes to pepper the movie with an almost never ending soundtrack. It’s wonderful, but almost distracting, as if so much time was put in the setting and creating the right overly saccharine feel, and not enough effort was put into creating a smoother storyline.
Reiner and his team decided to stick to the original format of the source book of the same name by Wendelin Van Draanen. The young adult novel flips perspective every chapter; events overlap and individual storylines are explored to all culminate into a delightful little love story. Or big love story if you see it through the characters’, Juli Baker (a sweet Madeline Carroll) and Bryce Larkin (Callan McAuliffe), young eyes.
Callan McAuliffe & Madeline Carroll
In the book, this style nicely balances the two protagonists, but in the film the constant switching of narrators and voice-overs bog down the lightness of the material. The scenes could somewhat be described as individual vignettes that at first have a hard flowing into one another. As the movie skips along, though, the scenes start to melt into each other, but other problems arise. Such as the grandfather. Yes, granddaddys’ are full of wisdom and whatever, but when the actor (John Mahoney) drolls out the lines with a preach-y, made-for-TV tone the words of experience are mildly irritating.
Also, while the film is pretty to look at with pastels and dark woods coloring the world, the inner light of the material never really makes it out of the screen–the most life comes from the two child leads and the other young members of the cast, all of whom charm their way through the project even as most of the adult actors (Bryce’s mother, Juli’s uncle, the grandfather) around them fail to make the experience feel less like a movie, and more like a memory.
Miranda Nicole is a senior NESA CW student. This is her first year on the Bugle Call staff. She loves the ocean, eggrolls, James Dean, shag coats and desert rain. Miranda can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.