The Upside

Based on a true story, Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart share the big screen in “The Upside.”

Moviegoers who enjoyed last year’s enduring, award-winning story “Green Book” will find the same satisfying feeling in “The Upside,” starring Bryan Cranston and Kevin Hart. 

One of Hollywood’s most under-rated actors, television’s “Breaking Bad” veteran Cranston aptly portrays a quadriplegic billionaire Phillip Lacasse, who lives a reclusive life in New York City. Enter Dell Scott, played by Hart, who simply wants to apply for the job as Cranston’s caretaker to satisfy his parole officer’s demands. Together, the two men deliver a heartwarming narrative based on a true story that’s also the third remake of 2011’s French film “The Intouchables”.

Filmmaker Neil Burger, who brilliantly directed  “The Illusionist” in 2006 with Edward Norton, continues his Midas touch in this feel-good movie. While “The Upside” may appear predictable in the larger scheme, the film’s subtle nuances between Hart’s crass persona and edgy approach to life rattles everyone else on-screen. 

Superb casting abounds throughout this crowd pleaser. No role is more significant than Cranston’s, as he positively sells his quadriplegic life and wealthy background. Once the sensational actor establishes his difficult circumstances, the entire film falls squarely on Hart’s capable shoulders. 

The film’s success is attributable to the slow roll-out of the growing rapport between Cranston and Hart. If the two besties hit it off too quickly, the many challenges they face ahead would’ve felt feigned. That’s where Hart’s performance really takes off. The street-smart Dell not only learns life lessons from the wheelchair-bound art aficionado, but he imparts bucket list wisdom upon the literary tycoon.

Rounding out the wonderful ensemble is Nicole Kidman as Lacasse’s business manager Yvonne Pendleton, and the film’s ultimate skeptic. Initially relegated to what appears to be a small, supportive role, Kidman’s sophisticated mothering of both leading stars is movie magic. Her role grows in intensity and relevance, bringing out the best in both leading men.

Landlocking “Aquaman” from a fourth-straight box office weekend win, “The Upside” flamboyantly brings compassion and heart to the big screen. Drama and laughter perfectly blended to shine light on human decency. In a nonstop news world of doom and gloom, “The Upside” is to be applauded for its classy and responsible soul.        

Grade: A

“The Upside” is rated PG-13 with a running time of 2 hours and 6 minutes.

Patrick King is a resident of Tucson and writer for the Reel Brief movie blog at reelbrief.com. Email him at reelbriefmoviereviews@mail.com.

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