The Upside – Movie Review – Heartwarmingly funny.

Based on true events, The Upside follows Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) a wealthy quadriplegic who hires an unemployed former criminal, Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) to assist him with his day to day life.

For those who are unaware this is an American remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables, and just for the record I have not seen that original film, therefore this review is solely assessing this new iteration without making any comparisons to the original picture.

Although this is based on true events, I felt the execution of this story did seem a little too formulaic at times. The first half is definitely much stronger and more engaging than the second half. It’s in that second half where things start to become predictable and the story starts to feel a tad bit repetitive. A few scenes could’ve easily been cut to shorten the run time to below two hours, and none of the important moments of drama and character growth would’ve been lost. The issues with the pacing become quite clear, especially during the third act where it feels like the film is rushing to wrap things up, after taking far too long to progress through the narrative in the first two acts. There’s also a couple lines of inspirational dialogue that is written and delivered in a manner, which felt far too on the nose and heavy handed. On the contrary, what the script got right was the humour. I was very surprised at how funny I found this film to be. I was impressed with how it felt funny in a fairly natural and heartwarming way. A bulk of it does come from Kevin Hart but he felt much more restrained than usual, instead of resorting to his typically loud and fast talking characteristics.

Both Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart were great, their growing bond and chemistry is the heart and soul of this film, and I’d credit them for the being the key reason as to why I found most of the film so enjoyable. Cranston effortlessly embodies a quadriplegic man who has clearly became drained and somewhat lifeless due to his condition. A shell of his former self. Meanwhile Hart portrays a struggling ex convict who is trying to get his priorities straight, in order to better his relationship with his son and his son’s mother. I was impressed with Kevin’s dramatic work because he hasn’t gone this far down the dramatic route with any of his performances before, so it was refreshing to see him try something different and have it pay off. I thought script developed the characters nicely as well, which stopped them from feeling two dimensional. Nicole Kidman portrays Yvonne who is Phillip’s long time assistant. I thought she was terrific at balancing the warm kindness of someone who truly cares, in contrast with the sharp discipline of a woman who wants the very best for her boss.

I admired the direction and cinematography that was on display. I thought those aspects were handled very well and gave the film a much cleaner look when compared to most dramas that are similar to this. I’m intrigued to find out what camera was used to shoot the film, because the image quality was noticeably more detailed than your average film.

Overall, The Upside is for the most part, an enjoyable drama thanks to the great performances from Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart. Their chemistry is the foundation of this story, and I was surprised at how funny the film was. The positives certainly outweigh the negatives with this one.

★ ★ ★

(3 Stars out 5)

-T. Graham.

The Upside – Starring Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart and Nicole Kidman.

Directed by Neil Burger.

Now showing in Cinemas.

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