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"The Upside": Nathan's Movie Review

Updated on December 25, 2021
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Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.

There are the sad films that depict just how difficult it is to care for someone who is paralyzed, from the strenuous work of the caregiver to the feelings of helplessness and hopelessness by the patient. But then there's The Upside, which centered more on the bond between caregiver and patient. While it did give insight as to what a caregiver's job entails, it didn't focus so much on the hardships and instead gave us a story about polar opposites becoming the best of friends.

The film follows Dell Scott, an unemployed down-on-his-luck divorcee and father who is fresh out of prison. His parole officer told him that he needed three signatures from employers proving that he's looking for work or he'd be going back to prison. That's when he stumbles into Phillip Lacasse's penthouse, thinking he was applying for a janitor position. To his surprise, he found that the job was as a caretaker for Phillip, a quadriplegic. As Dell learns the ins and outs of the job, Phillip finds himself happier than he has been in a long time.

The Upside was a remake of the French film The Intouchables. (Not the Kevin Costner film. That's The Untouchables.) While I have not yet seen the original, I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Upside. For a while now, I sadly admit that I've lost my love for Kevin Hart. I used to find him hilarious and a real breakout star. Lately, however, it seemed like he traded his unique humor to be a stereotype and more or less became the next forgotten comedian. This film, however, changed all that. His role as Dell Scott is by far the best role he's ever had. He proved how serious, how kind, and how warm-hearted he could be if he'd just put his mind and effort into it.

Bryan Cranston gave a terrific performance as Phillip. He channeled what an actual quadriplegic patient most likely would feel and act like, turning to sarcasm and pushing everyone away out of self-disgust and, in some cases, fear of rejection. Bryan fantastically brought his character and the film to life.

The writing and direction were both masterful as well, keeping the humor and the drama perfectly balanced. There wasn't too much of one or the other. The only gripe I have is that there wasn't as much emotional resonance as there should have been. In fact, my heart wasn't stirred until the final few minutes, and that's a true shame considering the powerhouse it could have been.

In conclusion, don't listen to Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic and go see this film for yourself. The negativity is not deserved, regardless of how it compares to the original. I give The Upside a 3.5 out of 4.

© 2019 Nathan Jasper


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