THE UPSIDE (2017) – My rating: 7.5/10

The Upside is a comedy-drama directed by Neil Burger and written by Jon Hartmere. It is a remake of the French 2011 film, The Intouchables, which was itself inspired by the life of Philippe Pozzo di Borgo.  The film follows a paralyzed billionaire who hires a recently paroled convict as a caregiver.  I was quite anxious to see The Upside but became waylaid by all the bad reviews.  I decided to see it anyway, before it left the theaters and I’m glad I did.  I felt the movie was well done and quite entertaining.

The Upside opens with Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) and Philip Lacasse (Bryan Cranston) speeding through New York City in a Ferrari. After they are pulled over by the police, Dell makes up a story that convinces the officers he is rushing Philip to the emergency room. Philip grudgingly plays along, and instead of being issued a ticket, the two are escorted to the hospital by the police.

Rewind six months earlier to where the recently paroled Dell is ordered to obtain three signatures to prove he is seeking a job. He appears to answer several ads pretending he wants employment but is only seeking the signatures he needs to keep from violating his parole.  When Dell visited the penthouse home of Philip, a wealthy quadriplegic, his search for a befitting job was finally over. Philip, along with his assistant Yvonne Pendleton (Nicole Kidman), is interviewing candidates for the position of his “life auxiliary” caregiver. After waiting behind a couple of other highly qualified applicants, Dell barges in and demands a signature for his parole officer. For unexplainable reasons, intrigued by Dell, Philip offers him the job, but he declines. After leaving such a lush residence, Dell visits his ex, Latrice (Aja Naomi King) and son Anthony (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) at their dilapidated apartment, but neither is interested in him rejoining their lives, so he gives his son a book he stole from Philip’s library and leaves. Desperate to turn his life around, Dell accepts the well-paying position of Philip’s live-in caregiver, for which Yvonne establishes a “three strikes and you’re out” rule. Dell is daunted by his new responsibilities, despite guidance from Philip’s physical therapist Maggie (Golshifteh Farahani) but forges on anyway.

The Upside shows life between the haves and the have nots.  Even though Philip is a quadriplegic, he had more money than JZ, which makes him a very, very rich individual.  Dell, having no caregiver experience, was dirt poor with an estranged baby mama and their son.  Because The Upside is based on a true story, I can’t say the likelihood of this scenario happening is one in a million or who knows, maybe I can, we’ve just not heard of any similar cases.  The movie was moving, funny and semi-quasi emotional.  The relationship between Philip and Dell was complicated, at best.  There were a lot of Kevin Hart dynamics displayed throughout the film and I think this was certainly one of Kevin’s better performances.  Speaking of being qualified for a job, I felt Nicol Kidman was over qualified for her role, which in my opinion, didn’t require such an experience actress.  It is interesting to see how the story develops and how relationships were mended and how a win, lose situation became a win, win for everyone.  I think The Upside is definitely worth seeing, Check It Out!

NOTE:  Although The Upside was filmed in 2017, it wasn’t released in the United States until January 11, 2019 because it was originally suppose to be distributed by The Weinstein Company in March 2018, however the film was shelved and sold off following the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse allegations.

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