Nick Wilson | Staff Writer
Only five years after the global hit The Untouchables(2011), Director Neil Burger and screenwriter Jon Hartmere create an Americanized spinoff of the French film. The Upside entails a story of a wealthy billionaire, Phillip (Bryan Cranston), who was recently widowed and paralyzed from the waist down due to a paragliding accident. His need for a day-to-day caretaker leads him to hire an unlikely and unqualified candidate, Dell (Kevin Hart), an ex-convict attempting to stay out of jail, as an act of rebellion and fatalism. Despite their opposing lives and struggling differences, the two quickly come across an unlikely bond. Phil introduces Dell to opera, modern art, kumquat, a line of luxury cars, and other stereotypical billionaire things; Dell urges Phil to appreciate the humbler pleasures of his lower class life including hot dogs, weed, and Aretha Franklin. Almost as if two pieces in a puzzle, the pair unables each other to rediscover the upsides to life and live life to the fullest.
While majorly focuses on the comedy and drama aspects of their relationship, The Upside is able to stay similar to its popular predecessor. However, that means that it also brings the flaws from the earlier movie— reliance on stereotypes between white and black, rich and poor, and rotations from comedical irrelevance and longing scenes to dramatic sentimentality and heart-filling encounters. Two strong performances from both Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston, however, are able to keep a viewer intrigued in the story’s character development. The undeniable chemistry between Hart and Cranston accomplishes all it can to support the character developments of both Phillip and Dell and allows for the story to unveil toward a heart-warming ending.
It’s uplifting to see another side of Kevin Hart, known most commonly for his comedic talents displayed in his own stand-up series, along with Ride Along(2014), Central Intelligence(2016), and Jumanji(2017). Don’t be alarmed; The Upside is still filled with plenty of Hart’s comedic genius, possibly even too much. Burger attempted to utilize Hart’s talents to the fullest, allowing him to crack the audience up for essentially every scene from the movie, aside for the occasional plot-shifting heart-to-heart scenes that impact the lives of Dell and Phil. Comedy tends to be overused at some parts, however, included a scene that Dell must change a catheter that last for ages and an irrelevant foreign shower scene that just seems out of place and dried out(no pun intended). This overuse of comedy seems to direct the plot off the main topic of attempting to allow Phillip to live his life in joy and for Dell to reconnect with his struggling family who he was forced to leave to do his time in prison.
The light and elegance of the plot line still somehow shines through across the comedy of the film and still fills the hearts of the audience. An undeniable bromance between Dell and Phil does no less than perfect to save them from their own internal problems, but also provides one of the first feel-good movies of the year with as many high and low moments that can fit into the 126 minutes. It would be hard to imagine The Upside won’t rack up views in the box office and plenty of positive audience reviews.