Updated: Jan 12, 2019
Directed by: #NeilBurger
Written by: #JonHartmere
Plagued from the fallout of the Weinstein sex abuse scandal, The Upside was actually filmed in early 2017 and screened at the Toronto International Film Festival the same year before being shelved indefinitely. Fortunately, STX and Lantern saved the film from the TWC scrapheap and we finally get to see the dream pairing we never knew we needed – Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart.
A remake of 2011 French film, The Intouchables, The Upside sees paroled convict Dell Scott (Hart) failing in his search for work to ensure his continued freedom, until he inspires quadriplegic billionaire Phillip Lacasse (Cranston) to hire him as a carer. Dell gives Phillip a new lease of life when the two form an unlikely friendship as they both find ways to deal with their new realities.
A warming story that really shines in a series of scenes in the middle, Upside demonstrates another level to Kevin Hart as an actor. A role where he is perhaps less good-natured and naturally selfish, yet still humorous, and more relatable than ever, the depth of his performance is potentially a career high. It’s certainly less gimmicky than anything he has done in recent memory. Combined with Cranston, the care-giver relationship and the chemistry created, we are treated to a pleasant, albeit predictable, tale about two bored characters from the opposite ends of society who are searching for ways to be better, in each other.
It is not without its flaws – misdirection in neighbours, art and dating, lack of originality in the remaking, and a certain circle metaphor that is a little too on the nose – but to an extent, this is forgiven by the strength of the two leads.
The Upside hasn’t faired too well with critics though audience popularity is much higher, but the general consensus is that these two should pair together again for future projects.
A particular highlight that could almost be washed over is the interaction in the hot dog store as Dell berates the shop assistant for speaking to Phillip through him. Perhaps a moment many of us have been guilty of, Upside teaches a lesson or two in what is funny and what isn’t to those with disabilities. In that respect, it is reminiscent of The Fundamentals of Caring, though lacking in the same level of charm that Paul Rudd and Craig Roberts brought to the roles in reverse.
Nonetheless, Dell suggesting Phillip can sign his sheet “slowly” would tickle the most serious of souls.
Enjoyable, despite being a story we’ve seen a few times over, The Upside will leave a warmness in your heart and reminds us where true wealth and freedom can really be found.
Watch the movie trailer below.