Film Review: ‘The Upside’ Works Because of Kevin Hart & Bryan Cranston

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CHICAGO – In 2011, there was a notable French film called “The Intouchables,” based on the true story of quadriplegic Phillippe Pozzo di Borgo and the relationship with his caregiver. Leave it to the U.S. film industry to get its sticky fingers on the story, and seven years later Bryan Cranston portrays “Phillip” and his caretaker is portrayed by Kevin Hart. Instead of story, this version relies on its lead actors.

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

Intuitively and entertainment-wise, there is nothing wrong with the transformation. In the French version, the caregiver Driss is a poor immigrant in Paris. With Kevin Hart, renamed “Dell,” he’s an ex-con trying to reconnect with his son, who lives in public housing. Naturally, the role is rewired to exploit Hart’s comedic tics, but he does as much dramatic acting and pulls it off. Cranston is his usual competent self portraying Phillip… he understands the pathos of his situation, and pines for his late wife. The film both rises and falls on its two lead actors, but mostly rises, and is a decent story of two men overcoming their handicaps.

Dell (Kevin Hart) has just been released from prison and is back in his Bronx neighborhood, and is trying to stay away from the element that got him locked up in the first place. This involves finding a job, which he is not keen to do, despite having a son and child support to pay to the mother of the child. He prefers to do some interviews and have the businesses sign off on his parole form.

This accidentally gets him into a swank building in New York City, and the penthouse apartment of Phillip (Bryan Cranston), a billionaire hedge funder who was paralyzed from the neck down after a para-sailing accident. Of all the caregiver applicants, Phillip sees something in Dell that spurs his interest, and he hires the inexperienced ex-con. The relationship will change both their lives.

“The Upside” opens everywhere on January 11th. Featuring Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman, Julianna Margulies, Tate Donovan and Aja Naomi King. Screenplay by Jon Hartmere. Directed by Neil Burger. Rated “PG-13”

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Upside”

Upside1
Dell (Kevin Hart) and Phillip (Bryan Cranston) in ‘The Upside’
Photo credit: STX Entertainment

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “The Upside”

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