The Upside Review - Superb Acting, A Genuine Feel Good Film

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The Upside, from STX Entertainment, presents the story of a wealthy financier who becomes permanently paralyzed and hires a live-in caregiver with a criminal past that causes each to see the world differently with hilarious and enlightening results.

Directed by Neil Burger, The Upside stars Bryan Cranston, Kevin Hart, Nicole Kidman, Tate Donovan, Julianne Margulies, Golshifteh Farahani, Aja Naomi King, Jahi Di’Allo Winston, and Suzanne Savoy. The Upside is based on the French film Les Intouchables.

The Upside opens with Dell, played by Kevin Hart and Phillip, played by Bryan Cranston, speeding through the streets of Manhattan in a Ferrari, with Dell attempting to outrun the NYPD, suddenly they have him cornered.


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Frisking him, they attempt to have Phillip step out of the car, when Dell explains they are on their way to the hospital as Phillip is having a seizure. Sliding right out of that ticket, Dell jumps into the Ferrari and the two, laugh all the way to the hospital.

The film then rewinds six months earlier when we met Yvonne, played by Nicole Kidman helping Phillip into his transportation van. He explained, in a tone, that would denote he has explained this before, she was told no extraordinary measures were to be used to keep him alive.

Dell, at this time, is sitting in front of his Parole Officer, who is also explaining in a tone that denotes she had explained this before. Three signatures by tomorrow or you can tell it to the judge. So he is off to secure the signatures he needs to stay out of jail.


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By chance the computer generated a job lead for a janitor at a swanky Park Avenue luxury building. Just as Dell entered the lobby, a neatly dressed man was speaking with the building concierge and believing they were going to the same job, Dell ends up in a room of care givers secretly hoping, no matter how difficult the gig is, to secure.

The film shifts now to the interview phase as we see candidates which seem to charm Yvonne, and cause Phillip to flash her the “are you kidding?” eyes The two have a history and although the audience isn’t quite aware what it is it is clear she calls the shots to a degree.

As Dell waits his turn, he does the bathroom snoop routine and finds himself in the study. Not a patient man, he interrupts an interview and just tells them, I just need a signature.

Phillip decides after a short conversation with Dell and against all conventional wisdom, and everyone’s opinion, to offer him the job. He is given 24 hours to think it over. Dell heads to the Bronx to pick up his son Anthony, played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston, and finds out his ex-girlfriend, Latrice, played by Aja Naomi King, already had. Within minutes, the two are remembering why they broke up.

The next morning, Dell heads back to Park Ave. to secure the signature as he has decided to pass on the gig. He finds out it is a live-in position with a handsome weekly salary, and decides he could at least help the man out.


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This is where the film shifts. Dell, with no caregiving skills, moves from thinking only of himself to caring for the well being of another. More than simply that he has remorse for actions before he got to know Phillip.

Phillip also changes, he stops wearing the damaged badge on his sleeve. With all the resources in the world available to him, he, after the accident surrounded himself with the best possible equipment all which screamed his condition, heralding the invalid’s arrival.

Dell, who had always lived on limited resources for one moment, and no one including Dell knew how long it would last, had limitless resource, very fast cars. A penthouse apartment, the freedom to create and have it appreciated.

The Upside is a heartwarming story of opposites actually attracting and the lifelong bond that forms when each man up, essentially and see outside of the boundaries that have enclosed them.

I really enjoyed watching The Upside. The acting was suburb. Bryan Cranston puts himself, with this role, under the magnifying glass. Nicole Kidman was so subtle she was magnetic and Kevin Hart was very funny, he embraced his character completely. He was the funny man to Cranston straight man. The performances were authentic, real and genuine.


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Cranston strips himself of his acting instruments, allowing himself only two. Playing a character that is a paraplegic is challenging enough, so this role as a quadriplegic, creates an entirely different challenge as an actor. With no ability to control any motor functions, stopping or breaking a fall, gesturing, actor’s physical props, even the cellphone, all gone. It becomes about the eyes, face, and intonation of voice.

Supporting stand out performances from Tate Donovan and Golshifteh Farahani are clearly worth mentioning.

The Upside the Americanized version of the French box office blockbuster, Les Intouchables, the true story of French financier Philippe Pozzo di Borgo.

The Upside is very funny with solid moments throughout. It will have audiences laughing out loud as the entire cast bring their unique brands of humor to the screen. The characters are equally endearing, you root for them as they free themselves.

The Upside opens in theater everywhere January 11, 2019. See it.

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