“The Upside”: An Unlikely Romance Between Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart

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The Upside

This American remake of the 2011 French film, The Intouchables, attempts to piggyback on the original’s popular success by copying it closely. Both films are based on the real relationship of paraplegic billionaire Phillip (Bryan Cranston) and his street tough ex-con body handler or “life auxiliary” Dell (Kevin Hart). The setup is relatively simple: Phillip chooses the worst candidate for the job, despite the concerns of his loyal and attractive business assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) because Phillip is at the end of his rope anyway, and at this point, he would prefer crude honesty to pitying professionalism.

And from there it probably doesn’t take much imagination to see where the story is going in terms of bonding and heartwarming redemption. The mood never dips far into the very bleak potentials of the situation, and all too soon each man’s life is enriched by the unlikely influences of other. While never surprising, this film by director Neil Burger (The Illusionist, Limitless) film is pretty easy to watch.

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Cranston fills his role ably (pun intended), while Kevin Hart offers his signature spark. One of the most successful comedians working today, there’s no question Hart is a funny guy, even if you’re among the many who were concerned when several of his old homophobic tweets resurfaced. Be warned: If he’s not your cup of tea, this is his usual brew here. But while watching The Upside, I realized Hart does demonstrate a real flair for acting. The trouble is, he only really plays one character: Kevin Hart (or at least the Kevin Hart stage persona).

It would be interesting to see him perform some Shakespeare; in the right role he might truly be great. The Word: A feel-good friendship comedy that will likely be a soft-hit or a miss, although both leads are fairly strong. Coming to: Theaters

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Last modified: January 24, 2019