The Upside (PG-13)

Adapted from Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s autobiographical work, directed by Neil Burger, starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart, The Upside tells the story of an unlikely relationship between a wealthy, successful paraplegic (Cranston) and ne’er-do-well ex-convict (Hart). The wealthy, successful dude is white and the ex-convict is black. It’s sort of a role reversal from Green Book (my review in the link) where the white dude was the thug and the black guy the sophisticated one. I would say it’s too soon on the heels of a black guy/white guy movie, but I’ll allow both because each is based on a true story.

Compared to the original French film, The Intouchables, The Upside is a watered down, inferior version of the film for certain. The original won seven or so international film awards. The Upside is winning anything. This is the case most times when great (or even good) foreign films and/or television shows are adapted into an “Americanized” version. This is the very reason that even with Tom Hanks attached to the project, I am not particularly looking forward to the Americanization of A Man Called Ove (my review in the link). So, what I won’t do is compare the two because there is no comparison. I’ll look at The Upside for what it is and recommend you see the original and judge for yourself.

The Upside is a cute, funny, safe, middle-of-the-road, non-offensive, formulaic movie that almost anyone can enjoy. Cranston does what he does and he does it well, as usual. Kevin Hart does a really good job with this role. (Just don’t compare him to the 6′ 2¾” Omar Sy, who starred in the same role in the original. I know I said I wouldn’t compare but this was one helluva glaring and hilarious difference between characters.)

The screen play is very well balanced. The Upside never gets too sappy, too preachy or pretentious. It’s a very comfortable movie in that way. The heavier parts are still light enough to allow for some humor and the humor is subtle enough to allow for the gentler moments without any of it feeling forced.  Kevin Hart gets to show a bit more range than he has in the past as this non-judgmental caretaker who educates others on how to be respectful to disabled individuals along the way. He and Cranston play extremely well together. The jokes are frequent, well distributed, and most importantly, they are actually funny. There are highs and lows, moments of triumph, moments of defeat and it’s all wrapped up in a tidy bow at the end. I didn’t mind the tidy bow at all. It’s just a sweet little feel-good film.

The Upside earned 7.5 bloops out of 10. It is a solidly good movie that is enjoyable and absolutely worth seeing. I stop short of calling it “great” because it’s not unlike many movies we’ve seen before in structure. The premise feels too familiar. I can’t say it’s not to be missed because I think you’ll be able to get over it if you miss it. When I use the term “don’t miss it” I usually mean “don’t miss seeing this movie in a theater.” And if you insist on seeing it in a theater you can go to the matinee. There is some nice cinematography and set design here, but The Upside doesn’t really require a theater view to be enjoyed. Streaming should` be equally satisfying.

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1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Other Reviews (Please excuse the look of this section. It is a work in progress.)

If Beale Street Could Talk
What Men Want
Eighth Grade                          Vice                                                    Roma
Mary Queen of Scots              Widows                                               The Favourite
Green Book                             Halloween                                           Nobody’s Fool
Bohemian Rhapsody              Beautiful Boy                                     The Hate U Give
First Man                                Assassination Nation                          The Oath
A Star is Born                         The House with a Clock in Its Walls A Simple Favor

The Predator                           BlackkKlansman                                Support the Girls
Peppermint                             Christopher Robin                              Crazy Rich Asians
The Happytime Murders        RBG                                                    Won’t You Be My Neighbor
Sorry to Bother You               
You Were Never Really Here
Rampage                                 A Quiet Place                                     Ready Player One
A Wrinkle in Time                 Lady Bird                                            I, Tonya
The Florida Project                Black Panther                                     Molly’s Game
The Post                                  Phantom Thread                                 Den of Thieves
All the Money in the World   Coco                                                    The Greatest Showman
The Disaster Artist                 Call Me By Your Name


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

The Shape of Water                Marshall                                 The Man Who Invented Christmas
Victoria and Abdul                 Thor: Ragnarok                      Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!                                   It                                              Good Time
Atomic Blonde                       Dunkirk                                   Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming    The Big Sick                           Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me                      It Comes at Night                   The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman                     Everything, everything           King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw                                         Kong: Skull Island                  Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts     A Cure for Wellness               Get Out
Hidden Figures                       Fences                                     Moonlight
Hell or High Water                 Loving                                    La La Land
Lion                                        Manchester by the Sea           Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge                       Nocturnal Animals                 Captain Fantastic
Elle                                         Jackie                                      I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

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