‘The Upside’ | Film Review: It’s Me Before You Without the Romanticism

Sometimes Hollywood remakes of foreign languages films don’t even compare to the original. Even though The Upside is based on a true story, most don’t know that this is also a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables starring François Cluzet and Omar Sy, which I have heard good things about. What this has going for is that it’s at least better than other remakes that come in mind.

What’s the Story: Phillip (Bryan Cranston) is a wealthy quadriplegic who needs a caretaker to help him with his day-to-day routine in his New York penthouse. He decides to hire Dell (Kevin Hart), a struggling parolee who’s trying to reconnect with his ex and his young son. Despite coming from two different worlds, an unlikely friendship starts to blossom.

Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in The Upside (2017)

Knowing about the remake for a while after hearing the minor word of mouth when it premiered at TIFF in 2017, I wasn’t so sure if this was a good idea to do since. I even forgot that it was on hold because it was originally from The Weinstein Company. Now that STX Entertainment is the sole distributor, I can see how it’s getting a mixed reaction despite never seeing the original and just see that The Upside basically just meh after knowing the trailer didn’t sell me.

The biggest strength the movie has for it is the chemistry between Cranston and Hart. It wasn’t there halfway through since I wasn’t exactly feeling anything for their Phillip or Dell in terms of. You can see how both of them are kind of polar opposites of each other where Dell learns to be responsible for his actions, and Phillips starts to have fun even though he can’t move his body. There is some unexpected character development that’s interesting, but it wasn’t enough to still care about the two of them. I, for one, think Hart always plays the same role that’s tiresome, but I’m glad he kind of takes a step back and show his mature side a little bit. Also, Nicole Kidman was enjoyable as Phillip’s business associate.

Now when it came to blending both the comedy and drama aspect of The Upside, that’s where it wasn’t good, in my opinion. When it goes to the jokes, I found them dry and sometimes tries too hard to make it hilarious before the drama hits. On the other side with the drama, it wasn’t anything to buy off of when it’s not believable. This sort of reminded me a bit like Me Before You, another drama about a quadriplegic, except The Upside doesn’t have the two leads fall in love and doesn’t end in a depressing matter. Which one is better? I kind of lean towards Me Before You on the basis that it was tried to be a little compelling.

Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in The Upside (2017)

Almost everybody knows how the story is going to follow and it really does go through a predictable friendship that isn’t going to breakdown racial barriers but the two leads learning about each other in ways that can’t. Not looking for the next Green Book, which shouldn’t be getting a ton of hate. And you can see that Director Neil Burger (Limitless, Divergent) and screenwriter Jon Hartmere stayed as close to the original as possible, though it wasn’t enough to make me be invested with the rest of the movie. Fun isn’t the word to easily describe this as

On the plus side, as much as I didn’t think this was all that good, The Upside might persuade me into wanting to try being the caretaker of someone that’s a quadriplegic. It might be tough at first, but when learning what I can to make sure everything right, maybe it’s a career choice that could be interesting and helpful for those who need assistance. Most people have said to enjoy this, but I guess I wanted it to be better. If someone said the original is better, then I won’t argue with that.

Grade: C-

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman

Director: Neil Burger

Writer: Jon Hartmere

Runtime: 126 Minutes

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