It’s refreshing to see Kevin Hart take a different approach to his film career, instead of just doing the wacky “Ride Along” gimmicks, and “The Upside” is that type of movie. Especially when his chemistry with Bryan Cranston keeps things in check. “But……” is what you’re saying. But the movie isn’t better than the original.
To clarify, “The Upside” is the American remake of a French comedy called “The Intouchables,” which starred Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy, and was directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano. This one, directed by Neil Burger, is more modern, which means it has to feature generic elements just to make it seem more hip.
Hart plays Dell Scott, an ex-con, looking for work, in order to make up for all the years he’s neglected towards his family (Aja Naomi King as his ex-wife and Jahi Di’Allo Winston as his son). He lands a job as an assistant for the wealthy Phillip Lacasse (Cranston), who is a quadriplegic following a parasailing accident.
He sees more potential in him than does his executive Yvonne (Nicole Kidman), and that’s why we have to feature an annoying subplot between them, regarding the baseball strikes equivalent, if Dell fails at his new position.
That becomes a hiccup, as we see Dell and Phillip bonding and learning more about each other for most of the movie. Dell tells him to stop feeling suicidal, and Phillip doesn’t let his criminal record charge back at him. I actually admired their relationship in the ways Hart and Cranston seem to be enjoying themselves, while expressing their emotions at the same time.
“The Upside” has funny moments, mostly when Dell becomes reluctant about changing Phillip’s catheter tubes, and some honest humor written here. And it has touching moments. But somehow, the movie has to feature your typical modern drama elements, like minor bickering or relationship problems. It basically wants to do the same things we’ve seen done better before. Again, this is not better than “The Intouchables,” but at least, it has its heart in the right place.