Grade: B+


Author: Billy Madden

Typically the month of January is the dumping ground for studios to release the movies that lack the studio’s confidence. Usually, Hollywood’s junk fare lives and dies rather quickly in January. My mind goes blank when I name a good movie born out of January. Even after a few Google searches, I honestly cannot name one. Director Neil Burger’s The Upside is, surprisingly, a diamond in the rough.

The Upside is based on a 2011 French film called The Intouchables, and both movies are based on a true heartwarming story. Kevin Hart plays Dell, a parolee from the streets looking for work. Bryan Cranston plays Phil, your typical expensive flat-in NYC living billionaire who is, unfortunately, a paraplegic. Phil is looking for someone to become his aide and decides to give Dell a shot at the job, even though, according to Phil, Dell is the least qualified.

Instantly Dell is disliked by Phil’s assistant, Yvonne, played by Nicole Kidman. She attempts at first to make his experience difficult in hopes of scaring him off so another (more qualified) candidate would take his place. Naturally, things tend to go south when Dell and Phil interact from different backgrounds and cultures. The audience is gifted with a story that will make us laugh and cheer as we get taken along for the ride with these two differing souls.

Cranston does an excellent job acting as Phil. Needless to say, he is one of the finest actors of our time, and his role as Phil is portrayed in a very realistic way that we almost believe Cranston is paralyzed. Acting with just your head and facial expressions isn’t easy, but Cranston does it easily. Kevin Hart has always been a funny comedian to me and does a great job in the movie.  Dell’s role came off as if he was trying to turn his life around for an unselfish reason (I won’t get into spoilers, of course).

The cinematography and look of the movie were spot on, as most of the movie has a blue-greyish filter to express Phil’s sadness and state of mind.  Even though you spend your time laughing through most of the film, Phil’s mood usually remains hum drum and down, with Dell’s job to help Phil change his outlook on life.

The Upside was a welcome offering to kick off 2019, and I enjoyed it way more than I expected. It is a funny and touching story that will surely bring a smile to anyone’s face. When writing this review, The Upside is sitting at 39% with the critics at Rotten Tomatoes, but the audience has it at a more appropriate 88%. This movie is not to be missed; unfortunately, since it is January, it will be overlooked by many people. Do yourself a favor, head out to the movies, and have a good time with The Upside!

Rated: PG-13 (for suggestive content and drug use)
Director: Neil Burger
Starring: Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, and Aja Naomi King
Screenwriter: Jon Hartmere
Genre: Comedy

The English-language remake, written by Jon Hartmere, reinvents the French classic, “The Intouchables,” which took the world by storm and grossed over $400 million worldwide – making it the second highest-grossing non-English language film ever. “The Upside” chronicles the unexpected friendship between Phillip Lacasse (Cranston), a Park Avenue billionaire left paralyzed after a hang-gliding accident, and convicted felon Dell (Hart), recently released from prison and in need of a job and a fresh start. From worlds apart, Phillip and Dell form an unlikely bond, bridging their differences and gaining invaluable wisdom, giving each man a renewed passion for all of life’s possibilities.

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