By James Davidson
In “The Upside”, Phillip Lacasse, an extremely wealthy businessman from New York, loses his wife and becomes a quadriplegic in a freak paragliding accident. The severely depressed Lacasse (played by Bryan Cranston) is prompted by his business manager, Yvonne Pendleton (Nicole Kidman), to begin looking for a live-in caretaker. Dell Scott (Kevin Hart) is an out-of-work convict who is recently out on parole. Dell is ineffectively trying to care for his ex-girlfriend and teenage son. He must acquire three signatures from various job interviews that he completes to prove to his parole officer that he is looking for work, so that he can keep from being sent back to prison. None of the jobs he is interviewing for pique his interest and he is having a hard time finding good jobs because of his previous record and his status as a parolee.
These two opposite worlds hilariously collide when Dell accidentally stumbles into Phillip’s penthouse apartment thinking he is interviewing for a position as the building’s janitor, not the live-in caretaking job that he is not qualified for. Phillip offers Dell the job because he thinks that Dell is the worst qualified and feels like Dell will do a bad job and honor his Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) rule, by accident, if nothing else. What follows is an amusing sequence of events as Dell tries to teach Phillip to enjoy the life he has and drag him out of depression.
With Kevin Hart starring and after seeing the previews for this movie. I was expecting a silly, perhaps a little raunchy, comedy. I was not expecting a heartfelt story of two people from opposite worlds, each with their own problems, who help each other overcome their respective shortcomings while becoming close friends.
The chemistry between Hart and Cranston really elevated this movie from a mediocre comedy to a hilarious film about two unlikely people becoming friends. The two of them did an excellent job portraying these characters and the comedy that they produce by playing off of one another is fantastic. The humor isn’t silly and mindless, it actually has substance and is based on the two characters interactions with each other. I laughed quite a bit in this movie and would love to see it again. Phillip’s dry, quietly sarcastic personality plays perfectly off of Dell’s loud, brutally honest personality.
I also enjoyed how this wasn’t just about Dell teaching Phillip how to cope with the loss of his wife and the use of limbs. While Dell did help Phillip overcome his depression and learn to appreciate what he has; Dell benefits from the relationship just as much as Phillip. Phillip taught Dell how to find what he loved doing and to chase that dream to success, as well as to not let his past mistakes control his life.
“The Upside” is a great family comedy. Although, it is rated PG-13 for some drug use and suggestive content, so it wouldn’t be suitable for young children. But a great movie for families with teenagers or older children. Some of the humor can be a little crass, specifically the scenes involving Dell having to change out Phillip’s catheter.
“The Upside” is a great, feel-good family comedy that is not only extremely amusing, but also sends a great message and tugs on your emotions as well. I will be adding this to my collection when it becomes available to purchase. It earns 3.5 out of 5 stars.