Then again, this film has seen something of a rocky development cycle. When we got together and we had lunch, we start talking about it, and I wanted to find out if he knew that this was not a comedy.
the upside movie rating – A Memoir (Movie Tie
Director Neil Burger’s heartfelt comedy about a recently paroled ex-convict (Kevin Hart) who strikes up an unusual and unlikely friendship with a paralyzed billionaire (Bryan Cranston). Dell and Philip are forced to work together, and they butt heads at first. Dell knows he doesn’t belong in Philip’s slice of high society, but he takes Philip and Yvonne to task for their subtly condescending attitudes. Eventually Dell and Philip form a bond, with Dell coming to appreciate opera and a strong work ethic, and Philip liking some modifications Dell makes to his wheelchair and medication regimen (hint: after taking the new treatment for the first time, Philip orders fifteen hot dogs to scarf down). The two are getting along swimmingly when Philip’s pen pal (Julianna Margulies) enters the picture and causes a rift from which neither man may ever recover.
The Upside reads a lot like a group of white, able-bodied filmmakers watched The Intouchables, only to walk away from the experience ignoring what unified its leads and instead chose to focus on their caricatured perception of what made them different. The film sells itself as the tale of an unlikely friendship but is instead focused on presenting half-baked theses on race, economic inequality, and disability in as a series of sketches where the leads are the punchlines persistently laughing at themselves. It should surprise no one that this film was purchased in the fallout of The Weinstein Company’s collapse, as it is right in line with most of the tedious tripe the Weinsteins produced for the sole purpose of collecting awards season trophies, with varying degrees of success but almost always with an inescapable cynicism. Well, this time there is no upside to that schmaltzy faux feel-goodery, only transparently exploitative pablum.
Thus Dell finds himself being interviewed by Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) and his assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) to be a ‘life auxiliary’ for the widowed financial guru. Lacasse was recently in a parasailing accident that has left him a person with quadriplegia. Phillip offhandedly asks Dell what he was in prison for, forgetting (or not realizing) that he can’t ask such a thing. So Phillip and Yvonne are forced to offer Dell the position, which he reluctantly accepts.
Williams stars again, this time paired with Billy Crystal. Each is told by an ex-girlfriend (Nastassja Kinski) that he’s the father of her son. They join forces to investigate. Like The Upside,” it’s a buddy picture — or, if you prefer, film d’amitié virile.
Bryan Cranston plays Phillip Lacasse, a wealthy self-help author who is a person with a disability, quadriplegia, after being injured in a paraglider accident. Wealthy Corsican French businessman Philippe Pozzo di Borgo was 42 when he became a quadriplegic after a 1993 paragliding accident.
The story involves a smart-ass ex-con (Kevin Hart) who shows up at the home of billionaire quadriplegic (Bryan Cranston), looking for work. Well, he’s mostly looking for a signature to show his parole officer he’s actually looking for work.
The Downside: The biggest problem with The Upside, in several different respects, is the way in which it’s clearly pitched as a coming-out party for Kevin Hart as a dramatic performer. After becoming one of the most visible (and profitable) comedians of his generation, the recently embattled Hart clearly saw this film as an opportunity to branch out and demonstrate his range for audiences more familiar with his mile-a-minute comic delivery.
All of which leads us to the Neil Burger-directed The Upside. This Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston starring remake hues closely to the original template of the French film, to this new film’s detriment. Kevin Hart is the recently released ex-convict Dell Scott, whose apathetic attitude is getting him on the wrong side of his parole officer. This forces Dell to more seriously look for gainful employment. While searching for where to interview for a custodian job in a palatial suites building, he accidentally goes to the wrong floor.
The Upside retains much of Intouchables‘ plot, structure, and pacing, with director Neil Burger adding an even more lighthearted touch to what was already a dramedy with its emphasis on the latter. Aside from a meager handful of dramatic moments (Dell’s early theft of a rare book, Phillip’s thinly drawn struggles with depression), The Upside is strictly in the business of audience uplift. That’s true of everything from the sardonic exchanges between Hart and Cranston (easily the best scenes in the film), to the generally despair-free way in which the story sidesteps some of its more tragic facets.
France, the oldest US ally, may be Hollywood’s, too. The Upside” is only the latest example of an American remake of a French film. Some of the adaptations have been legendarily embarrassing: Blame It on Rio” (1984) is based on Un moment d’égarement” (1977). Some have been legendarily weird: The Toy,” based on Le Jouet” (1976), has Richard Pryor playing an unemployed man who’s bought” by a rich man (Jackie Gleason) as a toy for his spoiled son. Most have been legendarily forgettable: Diabolique” (1955, 1996), The Man Who Loved Women” (1977, 1983), Taxi” (1998, 2004). The list is long — or longue.
Some films try so hard to be warm and fuzzy that they end up leaving you feeling cold and shivery. The Upside is one of them. This remake of Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano’s 2011 buddy comedy The Intouchables sees Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston), an art-collecting billionaire, left quadriplegic after a paragliding accident.
So little has been done to update or refresh The Intouchables” for American culture or a new audience that The Upside” has no integrity as a separate piece of work. The casting alone is all that’s keeping it from sinking into a cynical act of franchise burnishing. That may be enough for the Weinsteins to return their investment, but Hart and Cranston deserve a better vehicle than this used model.
This film has been a long time coming for us. We first started seeing the trailers in December and Wife seemed approving. The script deftly heads off the most salient criticisms of privilege with a few exchanges between Phil and Dell-the resolution to the stolen book and the recurring strike” system shows off Phil’s unexpected forgiveness and open mind and deepens the mystery of why Phil chose Dell in the first place.
Following its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, The Upside is now getting a wide release – set to arrive in theaters nationwide this Friday Be sure to also stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more from my interview with Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart.
After a long battle with cancer, Philippe Pozzo di Borgo’s wife Béatrice died in 1996, roughly three years after his paragliding accident. This means that in real life, Philippe’s first wife was alive for almost three years after his caretaker, Abdel Sellou, was hired in 1993.
The latest entry in the the black guy and the white guy can get along!” canon is The Upside, in which Bryan Cranston plays Phillip, a rich-guy quadriplegic who hires ex-con Dell, played by Kevin Hart, to be his caregiver. Their start is rocky; they have both class and race differences to overcome, not to mention that Phillip, paralyzed from the neck down after a parasailing accident, has no choice but to use a wheelchair. But Dell will soon introduce the opera-loving Phillip to the joys of Aretha Franklin, even as Dell falls a little bit in love with opera himself. He will also learn to perform what he views as the most distasteful task of his job: changing Phillip’s catheter. After a great deal of protestation, accompanied by a series of exaggerated sour-milk faces, Dell learns that touching another man’s penis-in certain controlled circumstances, at least-really isn’t so bad.
You can virtually write the rest as ” The Upside ” unspools. Will Hart’s street-wise Dell break his high-class boss out of his luxury Park Avenue apartment and teach him about the joys of corner-bought weed, street hot dogs and driving the older man’s fleet of Ferraris very fast? Oh, yes. Rich white dudes in these films always need loosening up.
The Upside true story confirms that Philippe’s ex-con caretaker, Abdel Sellou, only applied for the job so that he could get government support, which required him to be employed. His counselor had encouraged him to apply for the position. At the time he was hired, Abdel was 21 and Philippe 42. Similar to the movie, he was given a private apartment in Philippe’s home. Abdel had no intentions of sticking around long helping a disabled person and his ailing wife. Abdel even stole a Faberge egg during his job interview.
This all sounds very inspirational, but the movie’s refusal to explore any of its own thematic content makes “The Upside” profoundly unmemorable. The original French film focused on the class gap between its two main characters, but in this version, Hart’s character is continuously impressed by Phillip’s wealth and is able to use it—he borrows luxury cars, he attends exclusive parties, he uses money to feel better about himself. There’s no friction in terms of wealth or race between these two characters, and while that supports the film’s “anyone can be friends” message, it also means the movie doesn’t really have much narrative motion.
His Driss was much more entertaining and enlightening than Hart’s Dell. Hart is one of the most successful stand-ups on the planet and here he isn’t acting as much as playing Kevin Hart. Maybe it’s simply because I have no idea how West African immigrants live in contemporary Paris that I found Driss’ French life much more engaging than Dell’s American version, a tired ghetto trope about an estranged husband and father who redeems himself in the third reel.
After sitting on the proverbial shelf for a year-and-a-half since it premiered at TIFF in 2017 thanks to it being a Weinstein Company production, Neil Burger’s The Upside is finally hitting screens to disappoint audiences everywhere as a mediocre January release. A remake of the 2011 French film Les Intouchables, (the highest-grossing non-English film ever) which itself was about the true-to-life story of a friendship between a quadriplegic rich man and his poor carer, it’s one of the few foreign film remakes that American audiences might walk into having seen the original, much like they did with Spike Lee’s Oldboy a few years back. And like the latter film, it’s hard to imagine that they’ll be satisfied with what they find projected to them, though STXfilms, who are distributing the film since the Weinstein Company’s insolvency, at least had the foresight to drop it during the January doldrums so it could have a chance at making some money.
The Upside” isn’t exactly a comedy, but it is often genuinely funny — thanks mostly, as you might expect, to Hart, who manages to riff constantly on his surroundings without ever distracting too much from the story. Without having seen Les Intouchables,” it’s difficult to fully contextualize Burger’s effort, but it is worth noting that The Upside” manages to be discreet during scenes that might have been played up for their vulgarity in other films.
Based on the true story of a quadriplegic billionaire’s friendship with his caretaker, The Upside doesn’t really change much in premise. Kevin Hart plays Dell Scott, an unemployed ex-convict who needs job signatures to ensure that he can remain on parole. By chance, one of the appointments he signs up for is an interview to assist Cranston’s Phillip Lacasse in his daily activities. Despite looking and acting less professional than any of the other employees in line, Dell’s attitude impresses Phillip enough (or at least makes him laugh more) to give him the job, much to the annoyance of his business manager Yvonne, played by Nicole Kidman. She’s technically the third biggest reoccurring character in this movie, but apart from a supposed romantic connection to Phillip, Kidman is mostly regulated to the background. Truthfully, someone of her acting prowess is overqualified to play a side character in a January movie like this one.
The cookie is set by The purpose of the cookie is to collect statistical information in an anonymous form about the visitors of the website. The data collected include number of visits, average time spent on the website, and the what pages have been loaded. These data are then used to segment audiences based on the geographical location, demographic, and user interest provide relevant content and for advertisers for targeted advertising.
Dell’s wiseacre, street-smart personality endears him instantly to Phillip, who has trouble finding a reason to live. Dell also is clever and a problem-solver, and despite protests from Phillip’s secretary, Phillip hires him on the spot.
A scene in the film shows Phillip when he’s angry and having an argument with Dell. After a moment Dell realizes how Phillip is feeling and on his behalf, Dell begins to smash things so that Phillip feels better. This scene is not only comical, but also illustrates the strengthening of the pair’s relationship.
There’s definitely a Green Book-like vibe to The Upside: its lead performances provide weight to a cliché-ridden story that was evidently real. Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston are the two big selling points but, despite their best efforts, I can’t imagine this film standing out by the year’s end. Then again, the applause it received from my theater during the credits suggests a market exists for this type of story after all. Here’s to looking on the upside, I suppose.
Six months earlier, Dell needs signatures to prove he is seeking a job or he will be held in violation of his recent parole. He enters a building seeking a janitorial job, but ends up in the penthouse home of Philip, a wealthy quadriplegic. Philip, with his assistant Yvonne Pendleton (Nicole Kidman), is interviewing candidates for the position of his ” life auxiliary ” caregiver. Dell barges in and demands a signature for his parole officer. Intrigued, Philip offers him the job over Yvonne’s objections, but Dell declines.
The true story of the unexpected friendship between Phillip Lacasse, a Park Avenue billionaire left paralyzed after a hang-gliding accident, and ex-con Dell Scott, in need of a job and a fresh start. From worlds apart, Phillip and Dell form an unlikely bond, bridging their differences and gaining invaluable wisdom in the process, giving each man a renewed sense of passion for all of life’s possibilities.
But things did not move quickly. Feig dropped out in 2013 Kevin Hart was cast in 2014 as the character now named Dell, with Firth still attached to play Philip (formerly Philippe). Bryan Cranston eventually replaced Firth. Nicole Kidman was cast as the female lead, Yvonne, who manages Philip’s business. And Neil Burger, director of films like Limitless, Divergent, and The Illusionist was brought in to direct.
On the left, François Cluzet and Omar Sy in The Intouchables; on the right, Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston in The Upside, the American remake. The Upside” has a fish-out-of-water movie plot: The character played by Hart is in a new environment.
The Upside” doesn’t always hit the mark, and again, it isn’t as powerful as the French film or the real-life story that inspired it. But it’s worth watching for the acting alone. What’s more, the film’s timely message that people can change, no matter their past, is an important one.
It’s that mainstream success that made Hart a desirable candidate for the Oscars gig. In tandem with the release of The Upside, this was supposed to a finite moment in time that propelled Hart to a next level of celebrity. Now, because of the drama surrounding Hart, the film is more vulnerable to snickering over its premise and heartwarming intentions than it would have been before.
Left: Actors Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston. Right: Philippe Pozzo di Borgo, the inspiration for Bryan Cranston’s character, and his caretaker Abdel Sellou, the basis for Kevin Hart’s character Dell. The film’s ending subtitles state that Dell and Philip remain close friends.
Yes. After interviewing around 90 people, like in the movie, Philippe knew immediately that Abdel was the one. “This is the guy I need,” Philippe recalled in an interview with The Telegraph. “I don’t give a damn that he is out of jail. I needed him. And he became a friend afterwards.” Philippe said that the fact that they were both on the fringes of society, he a disabled person and Abdel a criminal, created a common bond between them. Like in The Upside movie, they also shared a similar sense of humor. “He didn’t feel sorry for me,” said Philippe. “He was irreverent, cheeky and had an outrageous sense of humor” (Mirror Online).