The first remake of 2019 comes courtesy of Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in The Upside! The Upside, a remake of the 2011 French film The Intouchables, follows the relationship between a wealthy quadriplegic and the ex-con that was hired to help him.
Dell (Hart) is an ex-con in need of signatures saying he’s looking for work. Dell stumbles upon a quadriplegic named Phillip, or as he affectionately calls him ‘P’, who is interviewing for a new in-home life auxiliary. Against the advice of his assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman), Phillip hires Dell despite him having no experience caring for anyone but himself.
The relationship between the two blossoms as Dell starts to get Phillip to enjoy life. Meanwhile, Dell has his own struggles trying to repair the relationship with his estranged son.
The Upside is exactly what it looks like, Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston both doing what they do best – and it works. Hart is the comedic relief while Cranston gets to be the straight man. At times, the roles flip and Hart is giving some meatier dialogue to chew on while Cranston cracks jokes. Either way, the duo of Hart and Cranston works better than expected.
When The Upside isn’t cracking jokes about catheters, Phillip not being to walk, or Dell mispronouncing a word, it’s a thoughtful movie about relationships and the power of friendship. It’s a touching tale of two men, with different personal struggles, forming a bond that transforms their lives.
There are plenty of ways this film could’ve failed. They could’ve straddled Dell with the “magical negro” trope or leaned into the “two men from two different worlds” trope. Instead, the film strikes nice balance of good-natured comedy and the joys of friendship.
The moments when the story steps outside of Dell and Phillip’s friendship, the story lags a little bit. With a runtime just shy of two hours, the plot drags a bit as Dell tries to reconnect with his son and the story anxiously waits to get back to The Adventures of Dell and P.
The Upside may not get the critical acclaim its 2011 predecessor did, but it’s delightful and the first feel good movie of 2019. Cranston and Hart are the magnificent duo audiences never knew they needed. Their performance together makes The Upside worth your time and attention.