I first saw Upside at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. At the party, Harvey Weinstein, who was the distributor, started…
I first saw Upside at the 2017 Toronto Film Festival. At the party, Harvey Weinstein, who was the distributor, started the strong reaction and spoke an Oscar / Globe qualified run for the end of that year. One of the producers told me that they thought it was only a commercial game and planned to get The Weinstein Company to stick to the plan for a spring from 2018. Well, a month later, things changed and I don’t need to tell why . After the Weinstein debate, STX eventually took up the film and now, after it was not debuted in either 2017 or 2018, Upside is finally here, just a little tweaked to get a PG-13 – a better score for this fun and warm-hearted buddy comedy that is saved by Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston’s flammable law.
At the premiere of Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, the audience’s reaction to the movie was strong, and I expect it to be the same now that it is finally in theaters. Although nothing was close to the type of Oscar contender Weinstein thought he had, it is a gracious and entertaining show for both actors talents, as in the original French film The Intouchables,
Director Neil Burger and the screenwriter Jon Hartmere is stuck close to the drawing by the original French authors, Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, with only real difference in attitude and stars. Hart, thankfully with his tendency to rush the camera and sail over the top, is markedly upheld and real here as Dell, an ex-con who must get a job of placing his parole officer. He stumbles wrongly into Phillip’s house (Cranston), which is paraplegic (from a hangover accident) and only counts the days until he can leave this world. Still, he is a bit of a prankster and, most likely just to amuse himself, he enters Dell as a caregiver, a task for which Dell is completely unqualified.
As in the original, the rest of the film describes their budding relationship, because each one is in need of the other and both offer life lessons. In the mix are a number of players – especially Nicole Kidman in a sweet role as Phillip’s key assistant, Aja Naomi King as Dell’s ex, Tate Donovan, Julianna Margulies and others – but this exhibition belongs to the two stars, and they both deliver and play well off each other. Cranston, saddled with a role that does not allow for much physical movement, wonders with his eyes and expression. He and Hart have lovely chemistry here.
This is inspired by a true story of a Parisian man and an Arab, and they are still friends I hear. Making an update of the original was not really necessary, but as a chance to let Cranston and Hart sink their teeth in this material, it is really worth finding a new audience.
The producers are Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch. It opens on Friday. Check out my video review above with clips from the movie.
Are you planning to see The Upside? Let us know what you think.