With a new year upon us, January seems to be a time where the studios historically release films they do not think as highly of as the ones during awards season. Add to that the fact that director Neil Burger’s “The Upside” is a remake of the 2011 French film “The Intouchables,” and there is some potential for this film to be a bit of a rough watch. But rest assured, there are more moments of delight to this film than the ones show in the trailers, and it hits all of the feels.
In this story, Dell (Kevin Hart) is a man on parole who is trying to stay outside of prison by just getting signatures showing he is trying to get a job. His relationships are broken (especially with that of his son and his son’s mother), and he cannot seem to get out of his own way. When a mix-up for a job interview ends up making him the life auxiliary to a quadriplegic named Phillip (Bryan Cranston), they both learn about life and love from each other while Phillip’s executive, Yvonne (Nicole Kidman), waits for Dell to mess up so she can have him fired for someone she feels is more qualified for the job.
I am happy to report that Hart finally has the opportunity to show that he can do more than just wacky comedy by pulling off a dramatic role while still keeping it realistic with a touch of what brought him to fame, and the chemistry with Cranston (who also shows his talent by delivering a performance where he can only move from his neck up) is strong, showing how the bonds of trust and friendship can develop. Kidman does a decent job here, but I was never really tell if she was not invested in the role or if Yvonne was just a character that annoyed me. Regardless, it was nice to sit in a screening where the audience response in each and every form filled up the room at the moments they were supposed to.
Add to this some incredibly beautiful cinematography and a really well-paced two hours and five minutes, this is truly an enjoyable experience. If it is date night and you want a film that both parties will enjoy, make “The Upside” a strong contender!