Friday, January 11, 2019

Review: The Upside

Release date: January 11, 2019
Running time: 125 minutes
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston  

The Upside focuses on the working relationship of a wealthy paraplegic and a down on his
luck ex-con.  The unlikely friends could not be more different, but end up being exactly what each other needs at that time.  The film is a remake of the absolutely phenomenal French film, The Intouchables, which was one of my favorite movies of 2011.  This remake, thankfully, doesn't fall into the Hollywood trap of redoing what already worked in the first movie--it simply updates the movie to the current timeline and sets the film in America.  Much of the plot, pacing, and characters of the film are the same as those in The Intouchables, and that is a good thing.

The biggest concern I had with this remake was whether the American cast could match the wonderful friendship of the French film.  Thankfully, Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston are up to the task.  Their friendship is just as unlikely in this film, and their chemistry is apparent from the beginning.  Kevin Hart is funny and engaging, someone that you root for the entire film.  And Bryan Cranston is wonderful as someone who has everything yet lost everything.  This is a movie where the main attraction is seeing the relationship grow, and thankfully these two are up to the task. 

If there are complaints about this movie, it's that it feels unnecessary.  I have already gushed about The Intouchables, and the fact that The Upside kept so close to the original source is a blessing and a curse.  On the one hand, it followed in the wonderful footsteps of a stellar film. On the other hand, it feels like the movie is not necessary and doesn't offer anything that the original didn't 7 years earlier.  The updates to technology are welcome, but not explored more than a few voice commands that are used, and the American environment doesn't feel that different from what was already presented.  Additionally, Hart's character is not as easily likable as the man from the first film, and although I do like some of his new jokes, they included new plot and situations that lead to too convenient character changes.

However, at its core The Upside keeps almost everything that made The Intouchables such a phenomenal film.  Sure, it is not necessary, but if you haven't seen the original, just want to revisit this touching story, or would prefer English audio over subtitles, then give The Upside a watch.  

Watch it.

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