“The Upside” stars Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Genevieve Angelson, and Aja Naomi King. Released on January 11, 2019, the film follows the friendship between a recently paroled convict and a paralyzed billionaire.
The film is directed by Neil Burger, who also directed films such as “The Illusionist”, “The Lucky Ones”, “Limitless”, and “Divergent”. It is a remake of the 2011 French film, “The Intouchables”, which was inspired by the life of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo. “A Dog’s Way Home” wasn’t the only film that is attempting to make people’s hearts all warm and fuzzy this month. But unlike that film, this one is just aimed towards adults. This is something that I was looking forward to because it featured two well-known actors (Hart and Cranston) and a concept that, if done correctly, could make the audience feel all of the feels. Now, you’re probably wondering why it took me this long to review this film. Well, long story short, I was actually waiting for the right time to take my mother to see it. Unfortunately, it was nowhere to be found because life, so I decided to just see it by myself today and then take her to see it on another day (hopefully). The film has been getting plenty of strong word-of-mouth from audiences despite receiving a mixed response from critics, which didn’t surprise me that much because it was supposed to be a feel-good film for audiences. With that in mind, let’s see if this film can warm up my heart in the midst of the cold, windy weather.
If you’re familiar with “The Intouchables”, you should have no problem following the plot of “The Upside” because it’s basically the American version of “The Intouchables”. Since I haven’t seen “The Intouchables” (I humbly apologize), I will be looking at the story as its own film. This is another film that’s intended to touch the hearts of those who went through this type of situation, and while it did just that, it didn’t really do that much else for those who wanted a stronger representation of its concept. What I liked about the story is that it deals with two different people, a broken, disabled man who is rich (Cranston) and a recently paroled man who’s seeking redemption (Hart), and how their unlikely bond between them changed both of their lives. It’s as fitting and heartwarming as any other feel-good film should be, but the exploration on its subject matter wasn't deep enough to balance the film out with its light-hearted preachiness. The next thing I would like to mention is Kevin Hart’s portrayal as Dell Scott. Hart delivered a performance that is subtle and down-to-earth compared to his comedic roles. While it’s far from his best work, I can definitely see that he’s trying to perform outside of his usual comfort zone, and I appreciate him for doing that. As for the other actors, Bryan Cranston was great as usual as Phillip Lacasse and Nicole Kidman was really enjoyable as Yvonne Pendleton. Despite Neil Burger's inability to reflect its concept on a more personal level, I had to give him credit for allowing the cast to provide some entertaining chemistry with one another, especially Hart and Cranston, the main attractions of the show. Another flaw that I had an issue with was the pacing. The film had a couple of scenes that could’ve been shortened a bit so that it didn’t feel as long as it should be. Fortunately, the presence of Hart and Cranston was able to prevent this issue from being too irritating.
Overall, “The Upside” is a well-intended, yet flawed, drama that’s only there to deliver the feels to its audience. While its plot and direction felt a bit underwhelming, the film’s cast and its heartwarming essence were enough to showcase the brighter side of life. It’s the type of film that understands its potential even though it won’t impress someone outside of its target audience. It’s not as great as I wanted it to be, but it had some enjoyable moments that I wouldn’t mind going back to in the near future.