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Film Review: The Upside

The Upside (2019)
STX Entertainment and Lantern Entertainment

Directed by: Neil Burger
Written by: Jon Hartmere
Starring: Kevin Hart, Brian Cranston and Nicole Kidman.

So last night I had the pleasure of watching The Upside after snagging a couple of free preview tickets through Sky VIP (if you’re on Sky you should definitely get the My Sky app). I took the wife along on a cheeky Monday night date night and boy did I score some husband points! By the end of the film my better half was an emotional wreck (she cries at commercials but never mind that, it’s an emotional film).

For those who don’t know, myself included until I looked it up this morning, The Upside is a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables based on the life of Philippe Pozzo de Borgo. In this version we have Bryan Cranston playing Phillip Lacasse, a billionaire who was in a paragliding crash and is now qudraplegic. Kevin Hart is Dell Scott, an ex convict who is trying to catch a break so he can repair a broken relationship with his son – I won’t go into too much detail though because nobody likes a spoiler!

What I do want to talk about is how good Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston are (I’m not forgetting Nicole Kidman don’t worry). I’m used to seeing Kevin Hart in his usual stand up routines or playing the comedy role in a film. What was really nice and entertaining to see was how he soaked it down to get the serious side of his role across. He still gets to crack the funnies, and there are plenty, but he plays the serious side so well that you forget how he normally is in films and on screen.

Bryan Cranston has a really difficult job in this film and he pulls it off so well. He has to get across so many different emotions without moving any other part of his body except his face. One particular scene where you get to see him lose his temper is brilliant. You see his frustration start to boil up and when he finally lets go you genuinely feel relief for him. The expression of joy with being able to Hulk out and let go of what looks like years of frustration is really touching.

I also have to mention Nicole Kidman who is really great in this. Nicole plays Yvonne, the business manager-come-personal assistant to Phillip, who has given up everything to help her friend and some personal costs. Although it’s only a small role, she handles it really well and helps to cement to the relationship between Phillip and Del.

My favourite thing about this film was the chemistry between Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. It doesn’t happen straightaway and the director takes the right amount of time to show you the friendship building up. It also gives a great look how people perceive each other. Each of the characters learn something about the other but more important, they discover something about themselves that was either forgotten or they never knew was there. The part of the film that highlights this the best for me was when Phillip takes Del to watch the opera. Again, no spoilers but I was laughing my ass off during this scene!

All in all a great night out at the cinema, which also made me want to watch the 2011 version. In my book any film that makes me want to see more of the story is a keeper – get yourselves along to see it once it’s released.