The Upside 1.0 stars

Upside movie poster

Director Neil Burger’s remake of the French hit The Intouchables tells the story of Phillip, an unhappy (but fabulously wealthy) quadriplegic (Bryan Cranston) who decides to tempt fate by hiring the least competent life auxiliary he can find: Dell, a broke ex-con (Kevin Hart) who thought he was applying to be a janitor in Phillip’s building. Maybe this guy will honor his demand that no extraordinary measures be taken to revive him if he stops breathing, unlike his strangely devoted executive Yvonne (Nicole Kidman). The resulting drama is a strange sort of failure: the pair prove adept at underplaying off each other — minimal mugging from Hart, minimal intensity from Cranston — and they get any number of quiet moments just right. But the loud moments — there are several, and they are important, especially in a yarn as generally subdued as this one — they get weirdly wrong. Pasts are confronted, fortunes are raged against, and lives are changed; but it’s somehow hard to care. Something crucial is missing every time, and after a while, it’s hard not to wonder what got left on the cutting room floor. As part of its story, The Upside strives to make the case that opera is worth loving; it might have done well to borrow from the pathos and passion that help make it so. 2019.

Matthew Lickona

This movie is not currently in theaters.

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