January is an odd time for movies, while we sometimes see massive action movies like Power Rangers or end up with strong box office contenders like American Sniper, it is usually a slower time where smaller movies can be given a chance to be seen. It's the perfect time for a small comedy/drama starring a couple of bankable stars in a remake of a popular French film. The Upside is an English version of the popular movie The Intouchables, however, it's largely being found lacking compared to the original. CinemaBlend's Mike Reyes gave the movie 2.5 stars out of five and says The Upside doesn't do enough to distinguish itself from its French predecessor...
Save for a few story notes here and there, The Upside almost feels like a lazily reskinned version of The Intouchables, which rearranges some of the basic furniture of the piece in hopes that it'll really tie the room together.
This sentiment is largely shared by several other ciritcs who have had a chance to see The Upside, and aren't quite sure what the upside of the film is supposed to be. The AV Club, found the film to be a predictable film that doesn't do anything to earn the conflict it creates or the resolutions it provides.
A repetitive series of artificially inflated character conflicts and tossed-off resolutions, interspersed with slapstick and jokes about prissy rich snobs, ultimately adding up to far less than the sum of its well-worn parts.
The Upside tells the story of quadriplegic Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston), a rich man confined to a wheelchair following a parasailing accident. He decides to hire ex-con Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) to be his caretaker almost as a joke, but Dell decides to accept the position and do his best with it. As you might predict, the two begin to bond, but also clash, as their two worlds begin to come together.
It's a somewhat predictable follow through based on the set-up, and that's largely the problem that many critics have. The Associated Press review seems almost angry at The Upside, if only because the movie clearly could have been something better.
Few films in memory have squandered so much acting talent in such a cliche-ridden, exploitative and dishonest way. It deserves its frozen grave.
Of course, there's a reason why movies like this tend to follow formulas. They can be comforting, and sometimes that's all a movie wants to be. There are those that appreciate The Upside for what it is. The Hollywood Reporter thinks that the chemistry between Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston works well enough that you simply might not care about the rest of it.
There's something so disarming about Phillip and Dell's relationship that you're gradually sucked into it without asking too many questions.
The New York Times also gave The Upside a mostly positive review, feeling that the movie is ultimately pretty funny and in a good way, as it doesn't try to make too many jokes out of disability.
Jon Hartmere's script has genuinely funny moments and is blessedly short on crassness: even a scene involving catheters and colon hygiene is less cringey than you might expect.
It seems like The Upside is the sort of movie that folks looking for an uplifting story might enjoy, even if it may not be one you'll remember much after the fact.