Ewan Gleadow

Review: The Upside

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@kevinhart4real, @BryanCranston and @NicoleKidman star in #TheUpside – see it in theaters January 2019.

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Remakes of classic and adored French movies are never likely to make much ground in wider circles of cinephiles, however, that doesn’t mean Hollywood won’t give it a go. The Upside is a remake of The Intouchables, both movies follow loosely the same plot. A paroled felon accidentally lands the job of looking after a paraplegic billionaire, helping him rediscover happiness along the way.  

Unfortunately, that is where the similarities end. Failing to capture the unique and incredibly touching charm of its original source material, this Hollywood adaptation often feels forced and at times rather dull. Not even the immensely talented cast of the remake can put this right, which is a shame since Bryan Cranston, as usual, gives a phenomenal performance that, if handled better, would’ve netted him an Academy Award nod at the least. 

His performance and chemistry with Kevin Hart is seemingly the only salvageable aspect of the movie. The entire film is dependent on the two having enjoyably comedic scenes with one another, and these are often few and far between. But when the film does hit those comedic or emotional chords, it does so with a great impact, making up for the few times it is able to leave a lasting impression. There’s a sense of genuine camaraderie between the two leads, with Hart and Cranston having some surprisingly natural chemistry with one another. 

But it’s when the movie shifts away from this chemistry (and it does so frequently) that the film begins to falter. The plot itself seems diluted and even dull at times. It’s never a good feeling when the film should’ve ended several times before it actually does. Even the actual ending of the movie doesn’t feel like it, if anything it’s as forgettable as the majority of scenes that precede it. 

Some of the secondary stories are brushed up rather quickly in the hopes that the more characters the film introduces, the more it can stave off of ending prematurely. The problem here though is that by the end of the movie there are far too many loose ends. Plot points that were integral in building the foundation of the film are left untouched halfway through the movie. It’s a shame, some of these subplots could’ve been leading to something better. But at the same time, we’re thankful that director Neil Burger didn’t shoehorn a romantic subplot in, especially considering there was definitely room and build up for it.  

It’s still an enjoyable enough distraction. For fans of both Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, this will be a serviceable film that should kill a few hours. But if you’re expecting an emotionally engaging movie or something anywhere near the charms of the original material, then you’ll be sorely disappointed.