Throughout the nation, society has been divided by things such as political affiliation, race, class and nationality. It’s nearly impossible to go on Facebook — or any social media platform really — without seeing some sort of agenda being pushed, or even a friend denouncing an entire group of people. In a time of such sadness and anger, it is important to remain hopeful and helpful to try and restore the bond between all types of people. With this recent remake of the 2011 French drama “The Intouchables,” the film “The Upside” is a testament that no matter the circumstance, and with a little effort and compassion, a friendship can be made between anyone — even if they are polar opposites.
“The Upside” — based on a true story — depicts the development between parolee Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) and wealthy quadriplegic Phillip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston). Shortly after he is released from jail, Dell finds himself as a candidate for the position of Phillip’s life auxiliary — even after his interview with Phillip’s skeptical executive assistant Yvonne Pendleton (Nicole Kidman). After his attempt to reconnect with his ex-partner and son, Dell finds that he needs this position to provide the support he feels he owes them. From there, he and Phillip’s relationship begins to grow as Dell begins his new auxiliary position.
Through the duration of the film, Hart’s performance as Dell searches for the audience’s sensitive side — and finds it quite easily. From the first dramatic scene in the film, it is difficult not to want to help Dell out as he struggles to acclimate to his new job. While viewers acknowledge that some of his choices may be less than perfect, they are able to understand his rationale of just wanting to do what he thinks is right. The convincing dramatic scenes in the film — reinforced by Cranston’s extensive acting experience — expertly demonstrate Hart’s potential in the drama genre and proves that with more experience he could establish himself as a better-rounded actor.
Hart and Cranston’s comedic backgrounds take the wheel for a majority of the film. What could have potentially been an abuse of comedy to desperately keep the audiences entertained instead was a movie that provided unique comedy with every scene that felt refreshing. Every joke felt natural and seemed to intertwine into the dialogue easily and well with the conditions they had referred to.
The film’s primary premise of unity in unlikely situations was a necessary message for audiences everywhere. The friendship that formed between Dell and Phillip — however unexpected and diverse — was a pleasant reminder of how humans should interact with each other. The lesson to take away from “The Upside” is that no matter their background, it is more than possible to find a friend in anyone. In a time where the world has become so divisive, it is more important to know this message and the film’s timing served to benefit its plot and overarching theme. The film inspires viewers to look for the good in others and encourages them to do whatever they can to help one another.
Viewers will be pleasantly surprised by the performances of both Hart and Cranston as well as the film’s wholesome message. “The Upside” is a gentle reminder of the hope that lives in audiences everywhere and how people can use this hope to do something great for others.