The Upside

The Upside

In Theatres: 
Jan 11, 2019
Running Time: 
126 minutes

The 2011 French film The Intouchables was one of my favorite films of the year and told the unlikely friendship between a wealthy quadriplegic and his live-in caregiver with a criminal record. Inspired by a true story, the film had drama, humor, and most of all heart and reached both critical and box office acclaim. Naturally, an American remake of the film was inevitable. Eight years later and we finally have The Upside with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart in the two lead roles, and while it delivers some genuine laughs it also retreads the same story without really adding anything new.


All his life there’s only been one person Dell (Kevin Hart) has look out for. Himself. His inability to care about others not only destroyed his relationship with his girlfriend and son, but it also landed him in jail. While out on parole and searching for a job, Dell mistakenly walks in on an interview for a life auxiliary position for Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston), a wealthy businessman who became quadriplegic after a paragliding accident. Despite being woefully under qualified and uninterested in the job, Phillips hires Dell anyway and what starts out as just another job quickly blossoms into a genuine friendship between the two.


When it was first announced that The Intouchables was being remade with Kevin Hart I was both cautious and intrigued. On one hand the original was so good so I felt there was no need to remake it, but on the other hand I was excited to see Hart potentially break free from the stereotypical loud and over-the-top humor roles he’s become known for. Unfortunately, The Upside features more of the same Hart as before. Dell is a hard to like character, even after he develops his friendship with Phillip. The film leans in too much on showing how terrible he is and how little he cares, saving his redemption until the very end. The majority of the humor revolves around these “fish out of water” experiences like dealing with a fancy automated shower or hearing Opera for the first time. It’s exhausting watching Hart yell and overreact to every little thing.


There are some genuine moments of banter, however, between Dell and Phillip. At times Hart’s loudness works, and Cranston has the ability to play off practically everyone. They have a good chemistry together, but the film never fully capitalizes on it. The film relies too much on Hart’s style of comedy while ignoring the dramatic aspects that made the original so endeering. Everything is so by the book, right down to the predictable relationship plotline between Phillip and his executive assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman).


The Upside has no upsides over The Intouchables so you’re better off watching the original. There may be more laugh out loud moments to the American remake but it’s nowhere near as memorable or heartwarming as the original. The Upside has Hart but lacks the heart of the original.

Matt Rodriguez
Review by Matt Rodriguez
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