Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) needs a job. More specifically, he needs to appear to be looking for a job in order to avoid going back to prison. But a chance encounter with Philip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) - a quadriplegic billionaire - puts Del in a position where he has to care for someone other than himself. The question is; can he get Phil to start enjoying life again?
Based on the true story of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo and Abdel Sellou, and a remake of French movie "The Intouchables", Neil Burger has put together a charming - albeit cliched - tale of friendship. Yes, I said cliched, it follows the same pattern as a lot of these types of buddy comedies. But that doesn't mean it isn't charming and funny. The changes these two bring out in each other make for an enjoyable watch. The movies' selling point, as with all buddy comedies is the relationship between the two leads. Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston are nothing short of great together. If I didn't know better, I'd say the cameraman just filmed two buddies hanging out.
It's refreshing to see Hart deliver a more toned down performance than we're used to seeing, he's very believable as this average guy. This is the type of performance I would like to see more of from the actor/comedian. Cranston is at his usual best, his performance is respectful in its approach to disability and those who live with it. But he also has a lot of fun with the character, a favourite scene of mine involved interviewing candidates for the role of his "Life Auxiliary". And the two leads are surrounded by a wonderful supporting cast, including a perfectly awkward Nicole Kidman, as Phil's business associate and friend, Yvonne. But the standout for me, was Jahi Di'Allo playing Del's troubled son Anthony, his anger and frustration at his dad feels very genuine.
The movie has received criticism for casting Bryan Cranston as a quadriplegic rather than giving the role to a disabled actor. I personally think Cranston did a fantastic job, and clearly a lot was done to get it right. Philip's disability is treated respectfully, the movie even goes out of its way to address certain issues faced by those with disabilities. As much as I disagree that it was wrong to cast Cranston in the role, I do hope that the debate surrounding said casting will create more opportunities for actors with disabilities in the future.
The Upside is a hilarious and heart-warming comedy drama about two people who change each other's lives for the better. Yes this type of story has been done before, but does it really matter when watching Cranston and Hart play off each other is this much fun? My answer to that would be a definite "No"!
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