MOVIE REVIEW | “The Upside”

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I changed purses to a smaller one.

I wished I hadn’t because I forgot my tissues. You’ll need them for this cinematic journey. Not a complete downer though, as joking and playfulness show up to balance-out short bouts of sorrow. Experiencing this empathetic, human tale of triumph is universally cathartic, in spite of what most would regard as a “tragedy.”

Left quadriplegic after a paragliding accident, a wealthy-billionaire Manhattan businessman and author, Phillip Lacasse (played by Bryan Cranston) directly and irreverently hires his own auxiliary nurse, Dell Scott (played by Kevin Hart) on-the spot on interview day. 02

In the original, true-to-life story, one is a French aristocrat, the other an Algerian ex-con. “In 2001, Philippe [Lacasse] published a bestselling memoir, “A Second Wind”,” about his life and his odd couple relationship with [Abdel] Sellou, which was turned into 2011’s French film ‘The Intouchables.’

A huge box office success in France, ‘The Intouchables’ was remade twice in 2016, in Argentina as ‘Inseparables’ and India as ‘Oopiri,’ before the 2019 American remake” according to Newsweek.

It almost didn’t get remade, the details of which, there’s no room for here (having to do with the Harvey Weinstein scandal). With Director Neil Burger’s (“Limitless” and “Divergent”) remake of the film being its third, we again have a mostly modern, unlikely pairing of backgrounds, cultures, attitudes and circumstances, and that’s what keeps us interested. It’s true friendship, as both learn from each other in ways not initially anticipated.

Cranston and Hart’s on-screen chemistry still seems believable and true. The comedic timing plays well, as does Cranston’s way with his face. Remember, he is playing a character who’s paralyzed from the neck down, so he’s got to have some demonstrated acting chops to be here at all. You kinda forget the guy is practically immobile, the story and movement being a vibrant and dynamic pairing. Here’s a spirited story about getting interested in life again.

Race relations is topical: It’s human nature, especially in today’s acute climate of social divide, to want resolution. Illustrating we’re all made of the good stuff on the inside (no exceptions), forgetting about the outer shell, is always inspiring. I’m left satisfied.

“The Upside” is rated PG-13 and runs a total of 126 minutes.


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