BY PAUL HALL
Reviewing movies can be a challenge. Really, it can! The new film The Upside, now in theaters, is the perfect example of one of the challenges that exists.
The challenge here is telling actors who I really like in other films that this outing just missed as a whole. And telling readers that The Upside should not be near the list of “must-see” movies, despite their favorites leading the way.
Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) is down on his luck. He is having trouble getting and holding a job and just needs some signatures to prove to his parole officer that he is trying to find work. At the same time, quadriplegic billionaire Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) is holding interviews for someone to care for him. Dell believes he is interviewing for a janitorial position but soon discovers the interview is for a caretaker role. Phillip is quickly taken by Dell’s irreverence around him and hires Dell for a job for which he has no experience.
Together, the two opposites learn about each other. Dell is working to prove he can be a good father for his son. Phillip has been searching for love since the horrible accident that left him in his current state.
But can the two individuals blend their differences into a positive cohesive force?
I like Kevin Hart. I like Bryan Cranston. I like Nicole Kidman — Yvonne in this film, who is managing Phillip’s business dealings — and she delivered in two of my favorite films from 2018 (Destroyer and Boy Erased). But despite my feelings about these talented actors, I found much of this outing a disappointment.
Constant forced sentimentality alongside jokes that didn’t score as much as they should have created a bit of a tough film to watch, to say the least. And whenever things would get rolling, the film would quickly run off the tracks with the next attempt at grabbing and tugging the viewers’ heart.
Based on the 2011 French film The Intouchables, this rendition definitely struggled with translation. I don’t have much experience with the original, but just from watching that trailer after seeing this film, it is easy to spot how much was lacking in The Upside. I’m not here to tell you there is nothing to look at here. If you change the way you look at the next person you see in a wheelchair, something good has come from the film. If you laugh at a couple of the purely humorous moments, something good has come from it.
Still, I honestly don’t know what the upside is for The Upside. Maybe this film will encourage others to go back and see the original. Maybe it is a simple, quick and easy viewing that will be readily forgotten as we wait for the next projects from our talented stars. Or maybe it is simply to remind us how good Hart, Cranston and Kidman can be when given better material.
The Upside is definitely lacking in one thing — upside.
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