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Review: 'The Upside' has all the feels

Posted Tuesday, May 21, 2019 at 4:47 PM Central

by John Couture

Here is something that I thought I would never say. Kevin Hart eschews his trademark standup routine to deliver a wonderful performance.

It's no secret that I'm not the biggest Kevin Hart fan, there's just something about his usual schtick that I find scathing. It's like he's playing a caricature of the funny African-American sidekick and he's not in on the joke. Thankfully, Hart is both restrained and a little bit more serious in The Upside and the film is all the better for it.

Based on a true story, Kevin Hart plays Dell, a recent parolee who is struggling to find a job and meet his court-appointed obligations. Bryan Cranston plays a wealthy quadriplegic who is looking for a new caregiver. Despite their differences, the pair clicks and a wonderful friendship is forged.

The Upside is one of those "based on a true story" films and an English-language remake of the 2012 film The Intouchables. So, it's safe to say that some of the original story has been lost in translation along the way. While The Upside is not a shot-for-shot remake of the earlier film, I was surprised at how much of The Intouchables is recreated in The Upside.

This bit of overlap forces the viewer to compare the two and that's tough because Omar Sy was brilliant in The Intouchables and leaves pretty big shoes for Kevin Hart to fill. Having seen The Intouchables, I found myself making comparisons throughout the movie and while Omar Sy is brilliant, there are several scenes in which Kevin Hart outshines his predecessor.

I wonder if my opinion would be different had I not seen The Intouchables and if I would have enjoyed Kevin Hart's performance more. Cast against type, the role of Dell is easily the most dramatic performance that Hart has turned in to date. Of course, being able to play off the magnificent Bryan Cranston never hurts either.

While the film is a bit predictable which I think is a bit due to the whole true story aspect and relies on sorely outdated prejudices, I think The Upside works thanks to the chemistry of its two leads. Throw in the always spectacular Nicole Kidman to the mix and The Upside instantly becomes one of those feel-good movies that have the potential to reignite your faith in humanity.

The Upside is now available on Blu-ray and DVD.