The Upside

January is notoriously known for being Hollywood’s dumping ground. Films that are Oscar-worthy are rushed out in November and December just in time to garner awards acclaim, while lesser films are rushed out in the beginning of the year to hopefully make a quick buck before hitting your preferred streaming service. The Upside falls squarely in this category. The Upside is a remake of the 2011 French hit The Intouchables and tells the true story of a paroled ex-convict who forms an improbable friendship with a paralyzed billionaire. Uber rich author Phil (Bryan Cranston) requires a caretaker after a devastating hang-gliding accident. His assistant Yvonne (Nicole Kidman) schedules a string of interviews with a diverse group of applicants. Phil settles on Dell (Kevin Hart), a divorced father fresh out of prison who only takes the job to get his parole officer off his back.

Director Neil Burger

Predictably, the film is designed to evoke laughs by putting Dell’s loud mouth and street-smart character in a world filled with aristocratic socialites consumed by fine art and fancy fast cars. Think Eddie Murphy in Trading Places. What starts as an updated take on The Odd Couple quickly morphs into an over sentimental and schmaltzy vehicle designed to manufacture tears rather than earn them. It’s a shame because Kevin Hart and Bryan Cranston are fantastic. Somewhere deep inside The Upside’s tedious and overlong 126-minute runtime is a film worthy of their performances. Seeing Hart’s Dell at an opera interacting with the stuffy rich or speeding behind the wheel of a luxury car, wears paper thin by the movie’s second act. The Upside is a moderately entertaining film elevated by two actors that clearly deserved much better.

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By SCOTT PETERSON | @CineSportsTalk